Sir Ian McKellen unveils Tatchell blue plaque

Award for 43 years of human rights activism; Blessing by out gay Catholic priest, Bernard Lynch

4 October, 2010

Peter Tatchel with Sir Ian McKellen. Photo: Chris Houston
LONDON — Acclaimed actor and film star Sir Ian McKellen this week unveiled a blue plaque honouring gay rights and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

The plaque was given a "secular blessing" by one of the world's only openly gay Catholic priests, Father Bernard Lynch. The local MP, Simon Hughes, also spoke, together with Southwark Council Cabinet Member, Veronica Ward.

The plaque, erected on Mr Tatchell's block of flats in south London, reads:

"Peter Tatchell. Born 1952. Campaigner for human rights, gay freedom and social justice. Lived here. Voted by the people."

The ceremony took place on Wednesday 29 September 2010.

A short VIDEO, with selected highlights of the speeches, can be viewed here.

Speaking after the unveiling and his acceptance speech, Peter Tatchell later told the media:

"I'm grateful but somewhat embarrassed. My contribution is very small. Compared to many others, I am a minnow.

"It's very rare for living people to be honoured in this way. You normally only get a blue plaque when you're dead. I'm still very much alive and I plan to carry on campaigning for another 30 years.

"This is a special honour. It hasn't been given to me by a quango or a committee of experts. The people of Southwark voted to give me this plaque, in recognition of my 43 years of human rights and LGBT rights campaigning. I feel humbled and undeserving to receive a blue plaque alongside so many truly great Southwark residents.

"For me, this blue plaque is also a tribute to the many campaigners who I have worked with over the last four decades. Without them, I would not have achieved so much. They have been my rock. Together, we have challenged prejudice and injustice. I am hugely indebted to my campaign colleagues.

"This plaque is wonderful but my greatest honour has been to work with so many inspiring, brave activists, both here and abroad.

"I dedicate my acceptance of this award to the heroic democracy and human rights campaigners in Iran, Uganda, Iraq, Russia, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and West Papua. I walk - no crawl - in their shadow. Their courage is awesome.

"I do my bit for human rights but so do millions of other people. Together, we are making a better, fairer world for ourselves and future generations," said Mr Tatchell.

Blue plaques are placed on the places of residence of famous scientists, writers, inventors, sportspeople, actors, politicians and social reformers. Previous Southwark recipients include John Harvard, Charles Dickens, Enid Blyton, Tommy Steele, Charles Babbage, Henry Cooper, Isambard Brunel, Michael Faraday, Charlie Chaplin, Octavia Hill, Michael Caine, Oliver Goldsmith and Mary Wollstonecraft. – Issued by OutRage!

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