Peter Tatchell to undergo eye surgery to repair damage from bashings

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LGBT and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is today undergoing major eye surgery to correct the damage caused when he was beaten up by President Mugabe’s minders in Brussels in 2001 and by neo-Nazis in Moscow in 2007.

The Mugabe assault involved several severe blows to his head, the last one of which knocked him unconscious. The Moscow attack was single massive blow to his right eye, which left him reeling and semi-conscious.

He has a chronic detached retina and has lost 50% of his vision in his right eye.

Peter Tatchell to undergo eye surgery to repair damage from bashings

He has previously had a new lens inserted in his right eye, in a bid to correct the impairment caused by the assaults.

“My eyesight has been getting progressively worse. Not being able to see properly has made reading and typing harder, diminished my balance and resulted in me knocking into things on my right side, causing a few nasty injuries,” said Tatchell – Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, a human rights organisation.

“The eye damage has slowed me and is very frustrating. My campaigning has been hampered. Everything is more difficult but I carry on as best I can,” he added.

“While the operation has no certainty of success for such a serious condition and such complex surgery, hopefully this operation will work and I’ll be able to see better and be more effective in the future.”

Discussing how his situation compares with that of those living in countries such as Russia and Iran, he said: “By comparison to the abuses inflicted on human rights defenders in countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Syria and Iran, my injuries are very minor.

“They are victims of far worse assaults and tortures that often leave them permanently disabled. I count myself lucky. I’ve got off lightly.”

“Obviously, I wish I had not suffered these eye injuries. Although I knew the protests involved risk, it was never my expectation or intention to get such a battering.

“I can’t undo what’s done. I’ve no regrets. Lots of other human rights activists have paid a far higher personal price, including the complete and permanent loss of their eye-sight, hearing, mobility or mental capacity. I salute them,” he added in a statement.

Last week, an Iranian pro-government news outlet claimed that the veteran LGBT rights campaigner is actually a spy working with operatives from MI6.

Mr Tatchell was detained by police earlier this month while part of a group protesting outside the London HQ of National Iranian Oil Company, campaigning against the persecution of the Ahwazi Arab community.