Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has hit back at claims he is 'transphobic' and 'racist' after an NUS officer has refused to speak at an event with him.
The 64-year-old was branded as a bigot by the NUS LGBT representative in private emails that emerged after her refusal to speak at the discussion.
Fran Cowling and Tatchell were due to debate on 15 February at Canterbury Christ Church University, at an evening entitled 're-radicalising queers'.
Tatchell rejected the claims and compared Cowlings move to a protest he attended in 1973:
Deja vu: When I staged first gay rights protest in a communist country (E Germany 1973) some NUS leaders tried to stop me & informed govt— Peter Tatchell (@PeterTatchell) February 14, 2016
He also claimed Cowling had refused his emails and described her as "shameless":
I have been emailing Fran Cowling since 26 Jan, asking for her evidence & offering an amicable solution. She refused & blocked my emails.— Peter Tatchell (@PeterTatchell) February 15, 2016
Fran Cowling made false allegations re my supposed racism & transphobia. Her supporters now try to make out she's the victim. Shameless!— Peter Tatchell (@PeterTatchell) February 14, 2016
Cowling wrote to the event organisers explaining that she would not participate in the event if Tatchell were present.
In the emails she cites Tatchell’s signing of an open letter in the Observer last year in support of free speech and against the growing trend of universities to “no-platform” people, such as Germaine Greer, for holding views with which they disagree.
Tatchell has previously said he “totally disagreed” with Greer and other anti-trans feminists, but said it was better to debate them than try to silence them.
Speaking on LBC on Monday morning Tatchell said: “It is quite shocking because for nearly 50 years I have been involved or supported nearly every anti-racist campaign in this country and every transgender campaign."
Prominent trans activist and journalist Pais Lees wrote that "painting him to be the bad guy isn't gonna make life better for trans people".
Maybe @PeterTatchell hasn't been 'no platformed'. Whatever. But painting him to be the bad guy isn't gonna make life better for trans people— Paris Lees (@ParisLees) February 14, 2016
An NUS Scotland president chimed into the debate, claiming Cowling was 'outed' by Tatchell.
Appalled at the treatment of my colleague & friend Fran Cowling, outed in national press by Peter Tatchell over a private email exchange.— Vonnie Sandlan (@NUS_Vonnie) February 14, 2016
Feminist Zoe Stavri hit out at those attacking the NUS LGBT officer.
thank you, white man, for making the judgment on what's racist and what isn't. pic.twitter.com/nCIknJ0Kqq— Another Angry Woman (@stavvers) February 15, 2016
When discussing Cowling’s stance, Tatchell told the Guardian: "I’m prepared to share a platform with people I profoundly disagree with, precisely in order to challenge and expose them."
Meanwhile the NUS told the Observer that Tatchell had not been “no-platformed” by the union as a whole, and that it was up to Cowling to make her own choices with regard to the event.
Cowling has not made comment on the incident.
Tatchell is the latest in the series of public figures, including Greer and Katie Hopkins, who have been subject to ‘no-platforming’ by student organisations in Britain.