mea culpas

Human Rights Watch’s Stunning Apology to Activist Peter Tatchell For 5-Year Defamation Campaign

Humans Rights Watch is very sorry for its five years of defamation, lying, and personal attacks aimed at British activist Peter Tatchell. Wowza.

Scott Long, who directs HRW’s queer program, has been going after Tatchell, who heads the activist group OutRage!, for years. Now in a “stunning” apology, HRW and Long are asking for forgiveness. Long’s claims, often about Tatchell’s work to protect gay Iranians, were “inappropriate… disparaging… inaccurate… condemnatory… intemperate personal attacks,” according to HRW executive director Kenneth Roth’s statement. Doug Ireland reports in Gay City News:

Speaking of Long’s attacks, Tatchell said, “I defend the right of people to criticize me. But Mr. Long’s attacks went beyond criticism. He made false allegations, which misrepresented my human rights campaigns. It is these untrue claims that are the focus of my objections.

Tatchell focused particular attention on what he terms “a highly libelous and defamatory essay written” by Long in the journal Contemporary Politics, which is published by Routledge. That essay, the 58-year-old British activist noted, “made inaccurate allegations. It grossly misrepresented and denigrated my campaigns in defense of gay people persecuted by Iran and in opposition to Islamist fundamentalism.

“I acted in good faith when I opposed the execution of Iranians accused of homosexuality and when I campaigned against fundamentalist Islam in Britain and worldwide. 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.’”

Long’s article in Contemporary Politics also accused Tatchell of “going after” British Muslims and adopting a “bullying tone” toward the Muslim community in Britain.

“This,” Tatchell said, “is also untrue. I have always made a clear distinction between Muslim people in general and the Islamist extremists who oppose human rights, including the human rights of fellow Muslims. Indeed, I have often defended Muslim communities, in Britain and worldwide, against prejudice and persecution. I will continue to do so.”

Says Tatchell of receiving the apology: “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 apologizing. It can’t have been easy for him. He has shown dignity and humility. I appreciate that. I accept the apologies. It is time to forgive and move on. For me, this closes the matter. The attacks on me are in the past. I look forward to working with HRW and Scott Long in the future.”

But the long list of Long’s personal attacks don’t end there.’s Nikolai Alexeyev, a Moscow-based activist, has seen Long’s temper flare. So too has International Day Against Homophobia founder Louis-Georges Tin, the French professor; and Gay City News‘s veteran journalist Doug Ireland, who reported this whole affair. That Long still has a job even after HRW admitted he acted with malicious intent, well, is remarkable.