Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Human Rights Watch
Apologizes to Peter Tatchell

Big congratulations are in order today for longtime global gay human rights activist Peter Tatchell. He has managed to get Human Rights Watch to issue an apology and statement about the bad behavior of Scott Long, the org's director for gay programs. For too many years, HRW has ignored the abuses of Long and the many ways he has needlessly attacked Tatchell and other activists who don't toe his party line.

As Peter wages his ceaseless and effective advocacy, often at great risk to his own personal safety, he should not have to also contend with the nasty and defamatory attacks of HRW's gay director Long.

This deliverance of accountability for just some of the outrageous behavior of Scott Long, from his official HRW email account, is much-needed and I hope is the start of a new commitment by HRW to learn to work with other global gay advocates in a respectful manner.

Here are excerpt's from Peter's statement with the full HRW apology:

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has made a full and unreserved apology to human rights rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

The apology has been made by HRW's Executive Director, Kenneth Roth, in New York.

It says sorry for a series of untrue and personal attacks on Mr Tatchell, made by the head of HRW's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) programme, Scott Long. [...]

"I thank Kenneth Roth and HRW for their gracious and fulsome apology. Their readiness to acknowledge the wrong done and say sorry is commendable. My appreciation also to Scott Long for conceding his false allegations and apologising. It can't have been easy for him. He has shown dignity and humility. I appreciate that," said Mr Tatchell. [...]

Referring to the nature of the attacks on him by Scott Long, Peter Tatchell added:

[...] "Mr Long's falsehoods and personal attacks were many and varied. They included a highly libellous and defamatory essay written by him, which appeared in the March 2009 issue of the journal Contemporary Politics, published by Routledge, which is part of the Taylor and Francis publishing group.

"This essay made inaccurate allegations. It grossly misrepresented and denigrated my campaigns in defence of gay people persecuted by Iran and in opposition to Islamist fundamentalism. [...]

"Contrary to Mr Long's claims, I never accused the 13 year-old victim of an alleged rape in Iran of 'wanting the rape.' Nor am I guilty of 'belittling violent sexual assault, and blaming the victim.' These are outright fabrications. [...]

"Sectarian smears against human rights defenders are wrong and counter-productive. We should support each other in our shared commitment to universal human rights," concluded Mr Tatchell.

This is the full text of the Human Rights Watch statement and apology:

Human Rights Watch (HRW) apologizes to Peter Tatchell for a number of inappropriate and disparaging comments made about him in recent years by Scott Long, director of HRW's LGBT program. We recognise that personal attacks have no place in the human rights movement.

Mr Long said: "Although we have our different viewpoints, I respect Peter Tatchell's contribution to human rights and apologize for any condemnatory and intemperate allegations made in haste and for any inaccurate statements made in my personal capacity."

Mr Tatchell said: "Despite the unfortunate personal attacks on me by Mr Long, I acknowledge his otherwise important contribution to LGBT human rights and I continue to value the vital work of Human Rights Watch worldwide."

Following Mr Long's apology and subsequent discussions, Human Rights Watch is pleased to announce that both Mr Long and Mr Tatchell agree that the movement to protect human rights, including the rights of LGBT persons, is best served when activists focus their criticism on those who abuse rights rather than those who seek to defend those rights. Mr Long and Mr Tatchell undertake to work to ensure that any airing of disagreements on LGBT and other human rights issues takes place with honesty, civility and respect.

They also agree to encourage their friends and colleagues to do likewise.
HRW hopes that this apology and agreement will enable us to move forward together to pursue our common goal: the defence of universal human rights.

Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch - New York, 30 June 2010

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