With Friday’s royal wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton only hours away, one of Britain’s best-known human-rights campaigners has launched a scathing attack on the British royal family.
Citing the royal family’s reluctance to acknowledge those among them who are gay and their many gay friends, Australian-born Peter Tatchell asks: “What’s the problem with this backward royal family?”
Tatchell, who is also a founding member of the gay-rights campaign group OutRage!, says he won’t be celebrating the wedding tomorrow. He’ll be partying with the anti-royal group Republic, the campaign for an elected head of state.
In a feature in the Advocate, Tatchell says: “Of course, I wish William and Kate every happiness, as I would wish any couple, gay or straight. But I don’t defer to the royals and I don’t think they are special.
“Why should we celebrate this privileged couple? When he becomes king, William will inherit the immense personal wealth accumulated by his royal ancestors through slavery, war, pillage, and colonization. If he had a conscience, he would give away the monarch’s personal wealth as reparations to the victims of centuries of regal tyranny.”
Of Queen Elizabeth II, Tatchell says that never in her 58-year-reign has she acknowledged the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Far-right terrorist’s bomb
“She has failed to visit or support LGBT charities, despite her many charitable causes. Until … OutRage! protested, she barred gay palace employees from bringing their partners to staff events. When the Admiral Duncan gay bar in London was bombed by a far-right terrorist in 1999, killing three people and injuring 70 others, she declined to visit the victims in hospital.
“The words ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ have never publicly passed her lips. For more than half a century she has ignored LGBT Britons. If she treated black or Asian people in the same way, she’d be denounced as a racist. Why the double standards?”
Tatchell says the British head of state should be chosen on merit and public endorsement, not by heredity. “They should be subject to periodic election so they can be replaced if they fail to fulfil their duties as expected,” he says.
He’s calling for a serious public debate about the future of the British monarchy, and believes Britain should “start thinking about the post-Elizabeth II era.”
He adds: “This is an issue of democracy and human rights. The monarch is our head of state. The monarchical system is anti-Catholic, sexist, and, by default, racist. Catholics are barred.
“The monarch is also required to be a member of the established state church, the Church of England. People of other denominations and faiths are prohibited, as are atheists.”
Also, he says, the monarch is drawn from the all-white Windsor family, so no black or Asian person can at the moment be Britain’s head of state.
“Firstborn daughters of the existing monarch are not allowed to become queen if they have any brothers. Older girls are passed over in favour of younger male children. These discriminations are out of step with the values of modern, liberal Britain,” he says.
Banned by law
Tatchell was among several gay-rights supporters who assembled at the gates of the Queen’s official London residence, Buckingham Palace, on Monday to present William and Catherine Middleton with a gigantic card asking for their support for same-sex marriage.
The card read: “Congratulations William and Kate on your Wedding Day. We wish you a happy life together. You can get married, gay
Campaign Facebook page
From Equal Love’s Facebook page
people can’t. We are banned by law. We ask you to support marriage equality. Equal = Love.”
The card stunt was organized by the Equal Love campaign, which advocates marriage for same-sex couples and civil partnerships – currently available only for same-sex couples – to become available for straight couples.
“Denying people the right to marry is appalling discrimination,” Tatchell said.
“Kate and William had a choice. They could get married, or not. They chose to marry. Fine. Same-sex couples don’t have this choice. We are banned from marriage by law.”
Republic are to hold their party in London from 11.30 onwards.