THE human-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has spoken out against the “outright oppression” of Christians in Pakistan, in support of a report by the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA).
Mr Tatchell, who formed the group OutRage! in 1990, has called on the British Government to make overseas aid to Pakistan conditional on the protection of Christians and other minorities. Aid should otherwise be redirected to NGOs that do not discriminate, he said.
The report by BPCA revealed “shocking inequalities, disadvantages, and outright oppression of Christians and other minority faiths in Pakistan”, he said, citing assaults, kidnapping, forced marriage, and forced religious conversion to Islam.
An outspoken critic of the Anglican Church’s stance on sexuality (News, 6 November), Mr Tatchell spoke this week of his commitment to defending the rights of Christians.
“Just because some Christians are homophobic and sexist, that doesn’t mean that Christians should not be defended when they are the victims of prejudice. I stand for the principle of universal human rights, which means human rights for everyone, including people of faith — even when they say disagreeable things.”
Mr Tatchell wrote recently that he had changed his mind on the case of the Ashers, the Belfast-based Christian bakers who were found guilty of discrimination last year for refusing to ice a cake with a pro-gay-marriage slogan (News, 22 May 2015).
“There are pros and cons on both sides, but, on balance, I thought it was right to defend freedom of conscience, expression, and religion,” he said this week. “If the Ashers had refused service to Gareth Lee because he was gay, that would have been wrong. But they didn’t. They refused to design a cake with a support-gay-marriage message with which they disagree. People don’t have a right to discriminate against other people, but they do have a right to discriminate against a political or religious idea that they disagree with.”
He remains committed to challenging the Church’s position on sexuality, and described one of his priorities as getting the Church to speak out against the persecution of LGBT people in the Anglican Communion.