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King Charles Has 'Never Been Our Friend or Ally,' Says LGBTQ+ Activist Peter Tatchell

King Charles Has 'Never Been Our Friend or Ally,' Says LGBTQ+ Activist Peter Tatchell

King Charles III

The newly crowned king has been complicit in discrimination through his silence, Tatchell says.

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Veteran U.K. activist Peter Tatchell has criticized the newly coronated King Charles III’s record on LGBTQ+ rights, saying Charles has “never expressed a word of sympathy for the victims of homophobic discrimination and violence in Britain or the Commonwealth.”

Tatchell made the remark in an interview with PinkNews. Charles was crowned Britain’s king Saturday in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey in London. He ascended to the throne with the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, last September.

“There is very little prospect that the new king will embrace and support the LGBTQ+ community,” Tatchell, director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said in the interview. “He’s never been our friend or ally.

“On the contrary, he consorts with religious leaders who oppose our human rights. He’s a traditionalist with markedly conservative views on most issues. In his eyes, LGBTQ+ equality is ‘too controversial’ to handle.

“Like his mother the queen, King Charles has never publicly acknowledged the existence of LGBT+ people. So far as he is concerned, we don’t exist. There is no record that he has ever spoken the words lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.”

Actually, Queen Elizabeth had a mixed record on LGBTQ+ rights. She spoke out against discrimination based on sexual orientation, although she was criticized for not including gender identity as well. She also endorsed the banning of conversion therapy and gave royal assent to marriage equality.

While political power in the U.K., a constitutional monarchy, rests with Parliament and the prime minister, the monarch's duties do include speaking out on political matters in the nation and the world. Tatchell does not have high expectations for King Charles, based on Charles’s history.

“Although the king has publicly defended the human rights of Christians and Tibetans, he’s never defended the human rights of LGBTs. By his silence, he acquiesces with our tormentors,” Tatchell told the outlet.

Peter Tatchell and King Charles IIIFrom left: Peter Tatchell and King Charles III

Many nations in the Commonwealth — an association of countries that includes many former British colonies — are oppressive of LGBTQ+ people, but Charles “sits on his hands and looks the other way,” Tatchell said. He also said the royal family has discriminated against LGBTQ+ staff, for instance not allowing employees to bring same-sex partners to social events.

Charles’s coronation was accompanied by anti-monarchy protests in London and elsewhere, and Tatchell and Graham Smith, CEO of the anti-monarchy group Republic, both condemned the arrest of protesters by London’s Metropolitan Police. Sixty-four demonstrators were arrested. Police broke a promise “that peaceful anti-monarchy protests would be permitted,” Tatchell told PinkNews.

Smith tweeted Monday that “this has been a disgraceful episode and we will be speaking to lawyers about taking legal action.”

Smith also criticized the royal family’s LGBTQ+ rights record. “If silence is collusion,” he told PinkNews, “I think they’ve got a lot of questions to answer as to why they’ve taken no interest in LGBT issues when it can be pretty life and death in so many parts of the Commonwealth.”

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.