Statement by Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner and generally lovely man:
Political vetting of Grand Marshal is anti-democratic.
The “Patriot test” has no place in the LGBT movement.
Manning is a hero for exposing US war crimes
London – 30 April 2013
The organisers of San Francisco LGBT Pride have revoked the nomination of gay rights advocate and military whistleblower Private Bradley Manning as Grand Marshal of this year’s Pride parade in June. Read their statement:http://fb.me/RhAlB44X
“Pride leaders are wrong on facts and ethics. Bradley revealed US war crimes and cover ups. He caused no harm to US military personnel or civilians. He was nominated as Grand Marshal according to the rules of San Francisco Pride. The decision to ban Bradley is political vetting, which has no place in the LGBT movement. He should be reinstated as Grand Marshal,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“The Pride organisers are acting like neo-McCarthyites by demanding that any one nominated as a Grand Marshal must first pass a patriot test. Unquestioning allegiance to US government and military policy should not be a requirement of a Grand Marshal.
“By deposing Bradley, the Pride organisers are saying that he was wrong to expose criminal acts by the US military. They are siding with a military system that perpetrated war crimes and their cover up.
“Bradley is a hero who has attempted to uphold international human rights law against those who have violated the laws of war.
“Manning is openly gay. He has participated in LGBT Pride marches and he campaigned against the homophobic US military policy, ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’. In 2008, he attended a rally in New York to oppose attempts to ban same-sex marriage in California.
“He has spent nearly three years in jail without trial and for many months he was subjected to cruel, degrading and humiliating mistreatment by the US military authorities.
“Private Manning, a US military intelligence analyst, was arrested in Iraq following the release by Wikileaks of video footage of a US Apache helicopter attack that gunned down 11 Iraqi civilians in 2007, including two Reuters journalists and men who had gone to the aid of the dead and injured. Two children were gravely wounded when the US helicopter opened fire on their van. The sickening video records US soldiers laughing and joking at the killings.
“Manning exposed this massacre by US troops in Iraq. The video of the massacre can be seen at: www.collateralmurder.com
“This slaughter had previously been the subject of a cover-up by the US armed forces, which claimed dishonestly that the helicopter gunship had been engaged in combat operations against armed insurgents.
“It is only thanks to Bradley Manning that we now know the truth about this killing of innocent civilians.
“Manning is a humanist and a man with a conscience. When he discovered human rights violations by the US armed forces and duplicity by the US government, he was shocked and distressed. He became disillusioned with his government’s foreign and military policy; believing it was betraying the US ideals of democracy and human rights.
“Bradley believes that US citizens have a right to know what their government is doing in their name. Bradley should not be in prison. The charges should be dropped. Set him free. Instead, put on trial those US soldiers who killed innocent civilians and those who protected the perpetrators.
“Bradley Manning is a true patriot, not a traitor. He reveres the founding ideals of the US: an open, honest government, accountable to the people, that pursues its policies by lawful means and respects human rights.
“At great personal risk, Manning sought to expose grave crimes that were perpetrated and then hidden by the US government and military. These are the characteristics of a man of conscience, motivated by idealism and altruism. There is no evidence that his leaks harmed anyone.
“Thanks to Manning, we, the people, know the truth. Bradley Manning acted in the spirit of the gay liberation pioneers by challenging oppression and unjust authority. His stand for truth and justice should be applauded and honoured at this year’s Pride parade,” said Mr Tatchell.
Four decades ago, Peter Tatchell refused to comply with the Vietnam draft in his homeland of Australia on the grounds that it was an unjust, immoral war.
Some people have claimed that Bradley Manning is not gay but trans. This is based on a small number of chat logs some years ago where he appears to identify as transgender. However, at no time since then has Bradley made any public statement describing himself as trans or asking that he be described that way.
Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation – 0207 403 1790