Activist Brings serious Side to Gay Pride Event
CONTROVERSIAL gay and human rights activist Peter Tatchell is to visit Torbay as part of the Pride festival.
Organisers of the first Torbay Pride event invited Mr Tatchell and the London-based outspoken activist accepted the invitation.
Mr Tatchell will be speaking before the open-air cinema screening of Milk in front of Torre Abbey Mansion on Friday, July 17.
Milk, with Sean Penn, won the Oscar for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay at this year's Academy Awards for its depiction of American gay activist Harvey Milk.
Torbay Pride organiser Matt Newbury said having Peter Tatchell was a real coup for the Bay.
He said: "I'm really excited we'll be welcoming him to the Bay. Peter Tatchell is renowned for his work as a human rights campaigner.
"As well as being a fun event we felt it was important Torbay Pride also had a political angle.
"We're delighted he accepted our invitation."
Mr Tatchell said: "I am delighted to attend the first ever Torbay Pride, on the beautiful English Riviera. It's historic. There is a fantastic schedule of events, spread over four days. I'll be attending them all and hope local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people will join me.
"A lot of big names attend the major gay pride events in London and Manchester, but they forget about the smaller events. It's just as important if not more important to support the smaller events because the LGBT community there is not as visible as in London."
Between 1,000 and 2,000 people are expected to attend the Torbay Pride.
Mr Tatchell's visit to the Bay is expected to be controversial.
Mr Tatchell is an Australian-born British human rights activist, who gained international celebrity for his attempted citizen's arrest of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in 1999 and 2001, on charges of torture and other human rights abuses.
In the 1990s, he became a prominent gay equality and LGBT campaigner through the direct action group OutRage!, which he co-founded.
In April 2007 he became the Green Party prospective parliamentary candidate in the constituency of Oxford East.
Mr Tatchell was arrested in May this year at the Gay pride parade in Moscow, just hours before the capital was to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 final.
Mr Tatchell added: "This year we are celebrating 40 years since the Stonewall Riots in New York, which triggered the worldwide movement for LGBT human rights.
"The Pride festival is fun, with lots of parties, but there is also a serious side, our on-going campaign for LGBT equality.
"The LGBT community has made great strides towards equality, but we have not quite won equal treatment.
"We won't stop campaigning until we win full respect, acceptance, dignity and human rights."
Torbay mayor Nick Bye has confirmed he would attend the Pride launch party at the Play nightclub on July 16 and officially launch the four-day event.
Mr Bye will also judge the best drag queen competition.
He said: "I'm delighted to be part of the event.
"I'm looking forward to meeting Peter Tatchell. He has been a hero of mine for many years, particularly over his human rights work.
"It is going to be a weekend everyone can enjoy."