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British gay and human rights pioneer Peter Tatchell announced in a letter to supporters Wednesday that he is stepping down as a Green Party candidate for parliament because of brain injuries he sustained during protests in Moscow and Brussels.
"It would not be right for me to seek election if I could not do the job of an MP to the high standards that I want and that Oxford East voters have a right to expect," he wrote. "The injuries don't stop me from campaigning but I am slower, make more mistakes, get tired easily and take longer to do things. My memory, concentration, balance, and coordination have been adversely affected. I can't campaign at the pace I used to."
Tatchell was one of more than a dozen people attacked by neo-Nazis at the Moscow pride festival in 2008. Before that, in 2001, he was punched, kicked, and briefly knocked unconscious by bodyguards for antigay Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe after Tatchell attempted to make a citizen's arrest of Mugabe while he was visiting Brussels.
"I don't regret a thing," Tatchell continued in his Wednesday letter. "Getting thrashed and brain injuries was not what I had expected or wanted. But I was aware of the risks. Taking risks is sometimes necessary in order to challenge injustice. My beatings had the positive effect of helping draw international attention to the violent, repressive nature of the Russian and Zimbabwean regimes. I'm glad of that."
Read Tatchell's full letter here.