LGBT+ activist Peter Tatchell discusses PTSD: ‘I was physically violently assaulted almost every week’

Lifelong LGBT+ rights activist Peter Tatchell

LGBT+ activist Peter Tatchell has discussed his experience of PTSD, after being “physically violently assaulted almost every week” in the 1990s.

Tatchell was a co-founder of the LGBT+ rights group OutRage!, which was formed 30 years ago this month, active between 1990 and 2011.

He told Varsity, the independent newspaper for the University of Cambridge, that although Outrage! was created two decades after homosexuality was partially decriminalised in the UK, the country “was still a very oppressive place for LGBT+ people”.

He said: “By the late 1980s, there were rocketing arrests of gay men for victimless behaviour as a result of police raids on gay saunas, bars, public toilets and parks.

“A young attractive officer would be chosen to dress up in a gay style and go to a gay cruising area and give men the come on.

“Any man who responded would then be arrested by a nearby concealed police snatch squad.”

Tatchell was one of the most high-profile members of the group, and so was often the target of the horrific, homophobic backlash.

“I was physically violently assaulted almost every week,” he said.

“Nearly all the teeth in my mouth got chipped and cracked. I was assaulted with fists, boots, iron bars, bricks and bottles.

“All my requests for police protection were turned down.”

Tatchell said that as a result, he has suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for “many years”.

He explained: “It was just constant, week after week, month after month, year after year.

“I’m quite tough, but I was very frightened. I kept on reassuring myself that at least I wasn’t a human rights defender in Iran or Russia.

“If I was I’d probably end up imprisoned, tortured or even killed.”

Peter Tatchell once said he would keep campaigning until he’s 95.

Despite his traumatising experiences, Peter Tatchell said there’s little chance of him stopping his activism for LGBT+ rights anytime soon. 

Throughout his career, Tatchell has been arrested in Russia after staging a one man protest against Vladimir Putin’s response to the torture of gay people in Chechnya, has hijacked of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter Sermon, and twice attempted a citizen’s arrest of Robert Mugabe.