You ask the questions: Peter Tatchell

(Such as: Peter Tatchell, were you upset that someone outed Peter Mandelson before you did?)

The gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, 47, was born in Melbourne, Australia. He came to England in 1971 and became a leading light in campaigning for gay rights. In 1983 he was defeated as the Labour candidate in the Bermondsey by-election. Last Easter Tatchell gained widespread publicity for hijacking the Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter sermon. A vocal campaigner for the gay rights group OutRage!, he lives in South London.

When did you first realise you were gay?

Alice Lawrence, Tunbridge Wells

Not until I was 17. I was a late developer. The average age at which gay men realise their sexuality is 12-14. But looking back on my childhood, I can see that I had unconscious, sublimated homoerotic desires from around the age of eight, as reflected in my passion for athletics and surfing.

What is the great attraction of being a "martyr" - something you once said you wanted to be?

LS Barnes, London SW18

I never said any such thing. That fabricated quote was published in The Times, which then refused to carry a letter of correction. It has since been regurgitated by other newspapers, despite my protests. I don't want to be a martyr because martyrs end up dead!

Would you describe yourself as an attention-seeker?

DA Platt, Milton Keynes

I want attention for gay issues, not for me personally. OutRage! seeks to transform cultural attitudes towards homosexuality. To achieve that, it is necessary to raise public awareness and provoke media debate. Publicising the issues is a prerequisite for changing attitudes.

What advice would you offer Peter Mandelson? Were you upset that someone outed him before you did?

DA Edwards, Bristol

My advice: come out to end the speculation and innuendo. But ultimately that choice has to be Peter's. OutRage! was against him being outed. If we wanted to, we could have outed Mandelson years ago. One of our members knows him well. We have lots of information about his private life. I was asked by Mandelson's biographer, Paul Routledge, to dish the dirt. I refused because I do not support outing unless an MP is acting in a way that is hypocritical and homophobic. Since Peter does not advocate anti-gay policies, there is no ethical justification for his being outed.

I once read that friends say you've never forgiven your stepfather or the church for refusing to accept your homosexuality. Is that true?

SF Gadd, Worcester

Another journalistic invention. I don't hold grudges or feel bitterness. These are destructive emotions. Although it is sometimes difficult, I forgive everyone, including the neo-Nazis who tried to kill me, the Liberals for dirty tricks during the Bermondsey by-election, and the journalists who have misrepresented and vilified my campaigns for gay human rights.

What do you hope to achieve by making sexuality a political issue?

TE Lewin, Carlisle

I don't make it a political issue. Society does that by promoting attitudes and laws that discriminate against lesbian and gay people. If there were no homophobia there would be no need for campaigning groups like OutRage! What we want to achieve is simple: an end to homophobic prejudice, discrimination and violence.

Should a prospective MP declare his sexuality?

Nick, Southampton

Hiding your homosexuality reinforces the idea that it is shameful to be gay, and leaves you vulnerable to blackmail and scandal-mongering. Coming out removes the stress of leading a secret double life, and possibility of exposure by political opponents and the press. Ideally, candidates should come out, but it is up to them.

Isn't lowering the age of consent to 14 declaring open season to paedophiles? Why 14? Why not 12 or 13?

KC Neal, Bradford

OutRage! is against criminalising teenagers involved in consenting relationships. Fourteen is the average age at which young people have their first sexual experience. Sex below 16 is illegal. Threatening these young people with arrest is not protection; it's persecution. The best safeguard against abuse is early, good quality sex education to give teenagers the skills and confidence to rebuff the advances of would-be abusers.

Would you like to have children?

Emily Baker, Suffolk

Because my mother was often ill, I effectively raised my younger brother and sisters. I've done my stint of parenthood.

What was the last book you read?

Cathleen Allen, Portsmouth

The Bible. I am writing an article on religious homophobia and was reading Leviticus 20.13, where it says that homosexuals should be put to death. Over the centuries, millions of gay people have been stoned to death, burnt alive and hanged from gallows as a result of the Bible's teaching. The Bible is to gays what Mein Kampf is to Jews.

Before your recent trial, did the thought of imprisonment frighten you?

D Gleeson, Reading

Prison is not a pleasant place for anyone, least of all an openly gay man. I was terrified that I might be beaten up or raped.

If there were one thing you could change in your life, what would it be?

Noel Spinner, Essex

I'd like to change four things about my life: I'd like to receive a modest income for my unpaid 10-hour-a-day campaigning; I'd want to get some official secretarial help with the huge volume of phone calls, letters, faxes and e-mails that I receive; I'd like to be reported fairly and honestly by the media; and I'd like to have a house with a garden in a safe neighbourhood.

Do you have interests outside gay-rights activism? If so, what are they?

RJ Nicoll, Lancashire

Other campaigns: exposing the scientific flaws of animal-based medical research and supporting the people of East Timor and West Papua against Indonesian occupation. Personal pursuits: mountaineering, surfing, movies, architecture and restoring junk.

Who is the most interesting person you have met recently?

LMC Boosey, Birmingham

A gay 1939-45 war veteran. His open homosexuality was totally accepted by the military, which makes a mockery of the ban on homosexuals in the armed forces. If gays could serve then, why not now?

What was your first thought when you woke up this morning?

Ian Payne, Nottingham

I feel ill and exhausted. Doctors say I am suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Because of my public stand in defence of gay equality, I've been targeted by homophobes. As well as being attacked with iron bars, bottles and knives, my home has been subjected to arson attempts, a bullet through the door and bricks through the windows. The police tell me I am lucky to be alive. Doctors say that most people in my situation would have committed suicide.

Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Arts and Entertainment
All-new couples 'Come Dine With Me'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne
musicReview: BST Hyde Park, London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart star in Almost Royal burning bright productions
tvTV comedy following British ‘aristos’ is accused of mocking the trusting nature of Americans
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice