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Talk by Peter Tatchell cancelled due to protest

A screenshot from Facebook of Kimberley Isherwood addressing the protest in Abergavenny (Pic: Facebook)

A TALK by LGBTQI campaigner Peter Tatchell planned for a Gwent town was cancelled due to a protest by a controversial group. 

The event, billed as “a conversation with Peter Tatchell”, was called off just hours before it was to take place. The protest, organised by Public Child Protection Wales, went ahead outside the converted chapel in Abergavenny that was due to hold the talk despite the cancellation. 

Gwent Police said it attended to “ensure a peaceful and safe gathering” and that no issues were reported to. 

The Labour leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Mary Ann Brocklesby, who is also a town councillor in Abergavenny, condemned the protest on social media site X, formerly Twitter. 

She wrote: “I am saddened & disgusted that a conversation with @PeterTatchell was cancelled for safety reasons. A group still turned up to attack #LGBTQI rights risking the safety of people at the venue. Not here not now not ever. Zero tolerance @MonmouthshireCC for anti #LGBTQI behaviours.” 

Green Party county councillor for Llantilio Crossenny, near Abergavenny, Ian Chandler wrote on X: “I’m very concerned that last night’s talk in Abergavenny by #LGBT activist @PeterTatchell was cancelled due to venue’s fears for safety of its staff from anti-LGBT protestors.

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I’m seeking more information from Gwent Police @GPMonmouthshire on their involvement”. 

Labour’s Mary Ann Brocklesby and Green Party councillor Ian Chandler have agreed a coalition to run Monmouthshire County Council (pic: Monmouthshire Labour)

Public Child Protection Wales – which unsuccessfully challenged the Welsh Government’s relationships and sex education curriculum through the courts – had encouraged “all peaceful participants” to attend and “register our disapproval of this man (Mr Tatchell) with our physical presence”. 

It also invited any “LGB or T person who feels he does not advocate for you and your beliefs” to attend. 

Videos from the protest on Wednesday, February 21, posted online, show Kimberley Isherwood, one of five parents backed by the group to bring the legal challenge that was dismissed by the High Court in 2022, claim Mr Tatchell supported the stance, adopted by the Welsh Government, that its relationship and sex education lessons should be compulsory. 

Ms Isherwood told the protesters: “What’s the problem with Peter Tatchell? He is a huge supporter of the education campaign to remove your opt-out from this education.”

During the speech, and in videos posted to Facebook in the days before the event, claims were also made about Mr Tatchell’s writings and previous commentary. 

Mr Tatchell has a dedicated page on his website petertatchellfoundation.org in which he addresses accusations made against his writing and commentary, and clearly states that he condemns “without reservation child sex abuse”.

Freelance documentary film maker Alastair Laurence, who had organised the event and was due to conduct the interview at the Market Street venue, said he’d taken the decision to cancel “to protect the safety of staff at the chapel, the audience attending and our guest.” 

Mr Laurence said the event is one in a series of interviews in front of an audience with artists, singers such as Peggy Seeger – sister of folk singer Pete – and authors including historian and broadcaster Margaret MacMillan and was due to discuss Mr Tatchell’s “life and times”. He has been at the forefront of the campaign for gay rights since helping to organise the first London Pride in 1972. 

Mr Laurence said it was “very disappointing” to cancel the event but added: “I’d taken advice we should take this group seriously and there would possibly be confrontations. 

“I had an email conversation with Peter Tatchell and he respected our decision.” 

Mr Laurence said there had been no contact made with him by the Public Child Protection Wales group ahead of its protest. He said he contacted Gwent Police as soon as he became aware of the planned protest and once he’d taken the decision to cancel it no further planning with the police was required. 

He claimed some ticket holders who hadn’t received message the event had been cancelled were “confronted by the protesters”. 

Mr Laurence claimed: “A number of them I understand were subject to heckling and abuse.” 

Sergeant Emma Barrett, of Gwent Police, said: “Our response to any public gathering will always be fair and proportionate and our officers attended to ensure a peaceful and safe gathering with no issues reported to us. 

“The right to lawful protest is a key part of any democracy, which UK police service uphold.” 

When the High Court rejected the case brought against the Welsh Government it said there is no conflict with the  European Convention on Human Rights by  teaching children that some people self-identify in a gender different to their biological sex at birth, and there are people who self-identify as transgender or trans, queer or questioning. 

The judgement said it cannot be wrong to teach children “that such persons exist, and that they should be treated equally and with respect.” 

Public Child Protection Wales was contacted for comment.

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