What Peter Tatchell really said about child sex abuse

Our PTF Director speaks out against lies & smears

Dublin, Ireland – 13 July 2020

Gript.ie website interview with Peter Tatchell  

Interviewer Gary Kavanagh

Peter Tatchell – Introduction

First, let me say that I condemn without reservation child sex abuse, the rape of children and adults having sex with kids. It is abhorrent, totally wrong and unacceptable. The perpetrators should be jailed. I have never condoned paedophilia. There are no circumstances where it is acceptable for adults to have sex with children.

My writing on the age of consent has been solely concerned with ending the criminalisation of young people of similar ages. I have never supported adults having sex with children. I have campaigned against child sex abuse, supported victims seeking justice and proposed ways of strengthening action against paedophilia. See:


Young people should not have sex at an early age. They should wait until they are over 16. The age of consent should remain at 16 but consenting sex involving teens under 16 should not be prosecuted, providing there is no more than two or three years difference in their ages, which is the law in several European countries including Germany and Switzerland. This means sex between persons aged 14 and 15 would not be prosecuted, but sex between a 14-year old and a person aged 18 or older should remain a criminal offence.

The false allegation that I support paedophilia has whipped up extreme violent hate against me; some of it threatening and menacing, including images of nooses. I worry that I might be in danger of violent attack.

Guardian letter 1997

These questions relate to the letter you sent to the Guardian in 1997, in which you defended the book Dares to Speak following a negative review of the book in that publication.

Gary Kavanagh: You have said the letter you sent to the Guardian was edited, but how exactly, and to what extent, was it edited? Do you have a copy of the original?

Peter Tatchell: My letter said paedophilia is “impossible” to condone. This means I do not condone it. I wholeheartedly condemn it. I find it repulsive and inexcusable. Whatever else my letter said, and no matter how it has been misinterpreted by others, my use of the word “impossible” makes it clear that I do not support paedophilia in any way. And I never will.

I don’t have a copy of my Guardian letter. It was done on a typewriter and I did not have a photocopier. Some points that were omitted from the published version of the letter include a specific statement that I opposed adults having sex with children, that I empathise with and support the victims of child sex abuse and that I believe an academic discussion of these issues, based on research and evidence, is legitimate and should not be misinterpreted as support for any form of child sex abuse. Such abuse is monstrous and should be punished.

Did you lodge a complaint with the Guardian, or with a relevant press oversight body, or engage in legal action, regarding the editing of the letter?

I complained to the Guardian by phone. They apologised. I accepted their explanation that it was an inadvertent unintentional mistake. They said they thought that by including my statement that paedophilia was “impossible to condone” it was clear that I was not endorsing child sex abuse. I am not rich enough to sue for libel and defamation. Nor did I want to, given the Guardian’s sincere apology and the fact that the mix up was not deliberate. There was no effective press complaints body at that time. My letter did result in criticisms but not a huge public outcry when it was published in 1997. It was not intended or interpreted as support for child sex abuse. People did not read it that way. It has only many years later been mispresented.

Do you stand by your statement that the book offers “a rational, informed perspective on sexual relations between younger and older people” and documents “examples of societies where consenting inter-generational sex is considered normal, beneficial and enjoyable by old and young alike”? 

That is a factual statement about the book’s documentation of practices in other societies but I strongly disagree with them and with the thesis that paedophilia is acceptable. Child sex abuse is vile and deplorable.

Do you stand by your statement that “the positive nature of some child-adult sexual relationships is not confined to Western cultures”? If so, how do you square that with your recently stated belief that adults having sex with children is always wrong?

I made a factual statement about what others think but this does not mean that I agree with them. I reiterate my view that sexual relations with children are despicable and always wrong, even if other people document societies where these relationships are acceptable and deemed positive. They are profoundly mistaken and are colluding with child sex abuse.

Do you stand by your statement that “it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful”, particularly given that the statement occurs at the end of a piece discussing adults having sex with children and not children having sex with others of their same age group?

Some adults say that when they were children they had sex with adults and that the sex was not unwanted, abusive or harmful. They say that, not me. I merely repeated their view. I accept that this is their sincerely held view as mature, responsible, ethical adults. But I do not agree with them. Their view is not my view. I disagree with it, which is why my letter said that paedophilia is “impossible” to condone. This means I do not condone it. I condemn it. Children cannot give valid consent to sex. It is abuse and is rightly illegal.

If you no longer stand over some or all of those statements why did your view(s) change, and when did it/they change?

I have never said it is okay for adults to have sex with children. I have always believed that adults should never have sex with children. It is gross and wrong full stop. I condemn it unreservedly and emphatically.

At the time you wrote the letter, in which you referred to the publication of the book as “courageous” were you aware that the editor of the book was also the editor of Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia? If not, when did you become aware of that connection?

The book was only courageous in the sense that it was discussing issues that most people, including me, find completely unacceptable. The authors were rendering themselves liable to social ostracism, loss of their jobs and worse. Even very bad people are capable of courageous acts. For example, the WW1 German flying ace Baron von Richthofen was courageous, even though he was on the enemy aggressor side in that war.

The book’s editor Joseph Geraci had been on the board of a prominent and esteemed Catholic newspaper, Catholic Worker, so I assumed him to be a person of moral integrity and uprightness.

I wrote the Guardian letter on the basis that Dares to Speak was an academic book, not a book advocating paedophilia. I had not read Dares to Speak – only a summary that someone sent me out of a concern that there were calls to ban or prosecute the book, which I saw as an attack on free speech. This summary did not mention that the book gave any support for paedophilia. It said the book was about research on the subject by academics.

In writing my letter, I was not endorsing any pro-paedophile connections or views that the editor and contributors may have had. I deplore and condemn Paidika and what it stands for. I have never read Paidika.

I was told it was an academic journal by researchers, psychologists, anthropologists and sociologists, similar to academic journals on criminality, prostitution and drug use, which do not advocate for their subject matter.

I was not aware when I wrote the letter that Paidika was involved in paedophilia advocacy and normalisation – which I totally disagree with and condemn. When, some weeks later, I was informed that Paidika was a pro-paedophile journal, I was shocked, appalled and furious. I would not have written the letter about the book if I had known the truth about Paidika. What it stands for is ghastly and vile.

What is your view on this segment of Paidika’s Statement of Purpose: “But to speak today of paedophilia, which we understand to be consensual intergenerational sexual relationships, is to speak of the politics of oppression. This is the milieu in which we are enmeshed, the fabric of our daily life and struggle. There is no country where there are not proscriptions against even the most innocent consensual paedophile relationships… It is our contention that the oppression of paedophilia is part of the larger repression of sexuality”? Were you aware of their statement of purpose when you wrote in support of the book?

I was not aware of Paidika’s statement of purpose when I wrote the letter. I strongly disagree with that statement and I condemn Paidika and its way of thinking in the strongest possible terms. It is not a journal that I have read or would ever want to read. It is obnoxious.

Did you know, or know of, Joseph Geraci when you wrote your letter?

I did not know or know of Joseph Geraci at the time; other than he was the book’s editor and that he had been involved with a newspaper, the Catholic Worker, which I was told was well respected. I deplore his views. They are outrageous and disgusting. I have never met him and would never want to meet him.

In your letter you say that the book contains the work of several “distinguished” researchers who offer “a rational, informed perspective on sexual relations between younger and older people.” The only researcher whose work you call out by name is Professor Gilbert Herdt who discusses the Sambia tribe as one example of a culture in which child-adult sex produces “happy, well adjusted” adults. When you pointed to Professor Herdt as an expert on this area, were you aware of the following quote from the Professor: “The category ‘child’ is a rhetorical device for inflaming what is really an irrational set of attitudes”? If so, were you aware that the quote comes from a conversation between Joseph Geraci and Professor Herdt which had been published in Paidika? The topic of discussion was the ways and means through which paedophilia could be “normalized”.

I have never seen or read Paidika. I was not aware of that quote by Prof Herdt and not aware of where it was published, until you now mention it. Nor was I aware of any conversations between Geraci and Herdt. I emphatically denounce the normalisation of acceptance of paedophilia. It is morally wrong.

Do you still think that Professor Herdt is a distinguished expert who offers a rational and informed perspective on sexual relations between younger and older people? If not, when and why did you change your view?

Prof Herdt is a distinguished anthropologist who has taught at some of the world’s most prestigious universities but that does not mean that I agree with him. He presented evidence of a society where there are socially acceptable sexual relations between older and younger people. As an anthropologist who researches different cultures, it is valid for him to present that factual evidence. However, I do not approve of those relations. I robustly condemn any of his views that seek to justify or normalise paedophilia.

What part of Ms Coward’s review moved you to respond so forcibly to the letter? You have said that it was due to your wish to stop attempts to “censor” the book but I don’t believe Ms Coward called for the book to be censored.

Other people suggested that the book should be censored or even banned and that there should be no public discussion about the research it presented. I defended the right of the book to be published and discussed on free speech grounds. But I never agreed with any suggestion that paedophilia is acceptable. I condemn it emphatically.

Do you agree with Ms Coward that the book was a “sneaky defence of an exploitative activity”?

The authors included academics who were not, to my knowledge at that time, advocates or defenders of paedophilia. I cannot say what the authors intended but if it was to legitimate the sexual abuse of children then I totally disagree with them. I deplore and reject that. There are no circumstances where it is acceptable for adults to have sex with children.

Ian Dunn and the Paedophile Information Exchange [PIE]

These questions relation the obituary you wrote for Ian Campbell Dunn, a Scottish gay rights activist and one of the founders of the Paedophile Information Exchange.

You described him in your obituary as a “pioneer for lesbian and gay human rights, remaining a central figure in the battle for homosexual equality…for 30 years.” You did not discuss his past as a central figure in PIE or his pro-paedophile work.

I never knew that Ian Dunn was linked to PIE when I wrote his obituary. PIE is disgusting. I condemn it. I only found out many years later that Dunn had been involved in PIE. I would not have written the obituary if I had known this. I wrote his obituary solely because Dunn had made a huge contribution to LGBT+ rights in Scotland over many decades, as evidenced by the many public figures who attended the church service in his remembrance. They were also, I presume, unaware of his involvement with PIE, otherwise they would not have attended his commemoration.

What exactly was the nature of your relationship with Ian Dunn, were you friends and, if so, how involved were you in each other’s lives? Did you ever work together, formally or informally, in any organisation?

We barely knew each other. We were not close friends. Dunn lived in Scotland and I lived in London. We cooperated very occasionally on LGBT+ equality campaigns, like working to secure legislation to protect LGBT+ people against discrimination in housing and employment. We were never involved in the same organisation. I only met Dunn a few times. I knew nothing about his personal life.

You have said that you were not aware of Dunn’s links with PIE when you wrote his obituary, and that it was years after the fact that you became aware. Could you explain how you had missed the Sunday Mail expose on Mr Dunn, which had linked Mr Dunn to PIE directly? I know Mr Dunn had fundraised heavily amongst the LGBT community, following the release of that piece, for a legal challenge against the Sunday Mail, something which appears to have been quietly dropped, and so I would have thought you would have become aware of Mr Dunn’s links with PIE at that point, particularly given that he was such a well-known figure at the time.

I did not read the Sunday Mail. It is a Scottish tabloid newspaper. I do not read the tabloid press and the Sunday Mail is not published in London where I live. I was not aware of Dunn’s legal challenge or any fundraising for that. The Scottish LGBT+ movement that Ian Dunn was involved with was very separate from the London one where I was engaged. There was little contact between the two.

When did you become aware that a young man went to Mr Dunn’s funeral and announced that Mr Dunn had raped him when he was 14/15?

I was never aware of any rape until you mention it now. I am shocked and appalled to hear that. I never heard anyone announce that they were raped by Dunn – either at his funeral or since then. Your mention is the first time I have heard about it. I condemn that rape. My sympathies are with the victim. If Ian Dunn raped that youth, he should have been prosecuted. I would have supported his prosecution. Rape is a shocking, evil crime.

Some have said that Mr Dunn dropped his case against the Sunday Mail because a tape of him admitting to the sexual assault of a minor was found. Did you ever hear that allegation, either as a fact or a rumour?

I never heard any allegation or rumour about him committing or admitting the sexual assault of a minor. I would have reported it to the police, had I heard it. I absolutely condemn such abhorrent criminal behaviour.

Why did you decide to write an obituary for Mr Dunn?

I wrote the obituary because Ian was a leading figure in the Scottish LGBT+ movement for many decades and made a big contribution to ending discrimination against the LGBT+ community.

When you decided to write the obituary for Mr Dunn did you conduct any research before publication? If so, how did you miss two major news stories about Mr Dunn? 

I based my obituary on what I knew about Ian’s work for LGBT+ equality. I did not read or hear about any news stories or rumours involving Dunn and child sex abuse. Both stories were in papers I never or rarely read.

The Times has reported that Mr Dunn openly advertised pro-paedophile meetings in Glasgow and Edinburgh. They report him as saying, “I am not one of those homosexuals who get cross or nervous when the subject of love between men and boys is raised.” Were you aware of either that fact or that statement before you wrote the obituary? If not, when did you learn of them? If so, why did you omit that information from his obituary?

I lived hundreds of miles away in London and I rarely read The Times newspaper. I was not aware of those advertisements, that statement or any similar statement until you mentioned it now. I condemn them.

Do you believe that Ian Campbell Dunn was a paedophile?

I have no knowledge that Dunn was a paedophile. I rarely met him. He never discussed the issue or his private life with me. If he was a child sex abuser, I would have reported him had I known about that.

What is your view on PIE’s campaign to lower the age of consent to 4 years old?

It is a vile abusive suggestion. I oppose and condemn it. Children cannot consent.

Do you believe that paedophiles can rightly be classed as an oppressed minority?

Paedophiles are not an oppressed minority. They are perpetrators, not victims. I will never support any person or campaign that makes such an absurd, disgraceful and immoral suggestion.

Did you ever meet Tom O’Carroll, the chair of PIE from 1977 to 1979, and, if so, what was the nature of your relationship?

I never met Tom O’Carroll and would never want to. I condemn all that he stands for. His views are disgusting.

Chapter in Betrayal of Youth

These questions relate to a chapter you wrote for a book titled “Betrayal of Youth”, or BOY. The book was edited by Warren Middleton, the vice-chairman of PIE, and the acknowledgement section of the book directly thanks the Executive Committee of PIE for their help in putting the book together.

You have said you were tricked into writing a chapter for Betrayal of Youth, when did you become aware that you had been misled? Who in particular reached out to you to ask you to write a piece for the book, was it Warren Middleton?

For nearly 40 years, I have received an average about 500 requests each year to write for books, magazines, websites etc. It is impossible for me to remember the names of all 20,000 people who asked me – especially those from four decades ago. The request to write for the Betrayal of Youth was in about 1981 or 1982. It was made by phone call and I was given an address to post it to. I do not remember who asked me to write the chapter or the address to which I sent it. No mention was made of PIE or paedophilia when I was asked to write my chapter. Paedophiles are devious. They knew I would not write for a PIE book, so I was told it was a book about child welfare and rights, with contributions by child welfare experts, psychologists and the Labour politician Ken Livingstone. It seemed a legitimate book and a reasonable request. I had no idea that it had any connection to PIE and that it would even mention paedophilia, let alone justify it. If I had known, I would not have agreed to write anything for that dreadful, nauseating book.

Were you aware of who the editor of the book would be before you wrote your piece?

I was not aware of the editor of the book. I did not find out who the book’s editor was until after the book was published and I was posted a copy – about four or more years after I wrote my chapter. I was horrified and angry. I wanted to complain but the book had no contact address.

Were you paid for writing your piece?

I was not paid for my chapter. What I wrote did not even mention paedophilia, let alone endorse child sex abuse. Nothing in my chapter could be construed as approving the abuse of children. Such abuse is obnoxious and evil.

What was the nature of your relationship with Warren Middleton? Did you know him when you were both in the Gay Liberation Front?

I have never associated with Warren Middleton. I had no relationship with him. I was not aware that he was in the Gay Liberation Front. If he was involved in GLF, he had no place there. GLF did not support paedophilia – and nor do I. I oppose child sex abuse and urge the prosecution of perpetrators.

When did you become aware that Mr Middleton was heavily involved with PIE?

Several years later, when the book was published. I was enraged, appalled and felt conned.

When you became aware that you had been misled did you make any attempt to stop the publication of the book?

I did not become aware that I had been misled until after the book was published when someone sent me a copy in about 1986 or 1987. I had no contact details for the publisher. It was self-published. I was shocked, disgusted and angry. I was posted a copy, with no note about who sent it and no contact details on the book to whom I could complain.

Did you ever speak publicly, in the years immediately after the publication of the book, about your displeasure at being deceived into being involved in the book and/or denounce the book? If not, why not?

The book was amateurishly produced and self-published. My only consolation was that no bookshop would want to stock it and it would doubtless (and thankfully) have a very tiny circulation. I presume that hardly anyone outside PIE circles saw it. On the very rare occasions that people mentioned the book many years later, I explained that I had been deceived, expressed my anger and made it clear that I totally disagreed with what the other authors were saying. I denounced the book and child sex abuse.

Did you ever conduct any other work, paid or unpaid, or engage in any activity, formally or informally, which was to the benefit of PIE or its members? Did you ever write, under your own name or under a pen name/unnamed, for any other PIE publication?

Apart from being tricked to write the chapter in Betrayal of Youth, I have never written for any PIE-linked publication or in any way endorsed PIE or done anything to benefit PIE or its members. I have never written anything anonymously or under a pen name. I have never done any work with or for PIE members. PIE’s ideas are repellent and against my human rights values.

Do you still think, as you say in your piece, that the concept of an age of majority serves no purpose other than “reinforcing a set of increasingly quaint, minority moral values left over from the Victorian era”?

I was alluding to the now rejected Victorian view that children should be seen and not heard; and that children have no rights and are the mere property of adults. This attitude plays into the hands of child sex abusers, who rely on children’s deference, compliance and submission to get away with their vile deeds. Arguing in favour of young people as young citizens with rights and responsibilities, I suggested that any fixed age of majority is arbitrary for things like voting, drinking, marriage, buying cigarettes, joining the army or consenting to sex. A person one day below a fixed legal age is deemed incapable or unfit to decide, whereas a person one day older is not. This is not logical. Nor does it take into account that different people mature at different ages.

My chapter in the book did not mention or endorse adults having sex with children. It merely questioned whether 16 was the appropriate legal age of consent. There are many countries that have diverse ages of consent, some higher and some lower than 16. I did not advocate the abolition of the age of consent or specify at what age sex should become lawful.

The section in my chapter about voting rights and other legal rights and responsibilities for teenagers was deleted by the editor; giving it a stronger focus towards the age of consent issue than I had written. The Notes and References to my chapter were added by the book’s publishers – not by me and without my knowledge or permission. I was furious.

What is your view of the content of the book, particularly the section immediately after yours, written by Roger Moody and titled “Ends and Means: How to Make Paedophilia Acceptable”?

I totally reject the pro-paedophilia content of the book and the abhorrent views of Roger Moody. I never knew he wrote for the book, or what others wrote, until several years later, after the book was published. If I had known that he and they were writing chapters, I would have never agreed to write for that vile book. I do not believe in making child sex abuse acceptable. It is an immoral, criminal act. The perpetrators should be prosecuted and punished.

When did you become aware that Mr Middleton had the distinction of being the first person in the UK to be arrested for “making drawings of children being raped”?

I was not aware of his arrest until now you mention it. I do not know or follow the activities of Middleton or any paedophiles. I loathe them. I was possibly out of the country on my many human rights trips abroad when his case was reported. I would have spoken out against such gross behaviour if I had known about it.

Interview with Lee

These questions relate to an interview you published on your website in which you talked to “Lee”, a 14 year-old boy who had been having sex with boys since the age of 8, and with men since he was 12.

Can you confirm that Lee was a real person and explain how he reached out to you? I ask as Lee articulates views that appear to be largely in line with views you have yourself campaigned for, and he does so with a level of articulation that one would not expect from a 14 year-old.

Lee is a real person and was one of several young male and female teenagers who contacted me during the OutRage! campaign to equalise the age of consent at 16. They wanted to tell their stories and opinions about the age of consent. I agree that Lee was surprisingly articulate. The views that I wrote about were his own. They are what he told me. They are not my views.

Are you aware that the interview, in full, has been republished in the newsletter of International Paedophile and Child Emancipation [IPCE]? If so, why do you think they republished it and how do you feel about that publication?

I was not aware that the interview was republished in a paedophile journal. I did not give permission and I would have refused permission if I had been asked. That publication is disgusting.

Do you feel you pushed back sufficiently against Lee when he said that sex at age 9 “was great”?

I challenged Lee on several occasions during the interview. My challenges included asking:

“How can a young child understand sex and give meaningful consent?

“Perhaps your friends were particularly mature for their age. Most young people are not so sophisticated about sex.

“Many people worry that the power imbalance in a relationship between a youth and an adult means the younger person can be easily manipulated and exploited.

“Many people fear that making sex easier for under-age teenagers will expose them to dangers like HIV. Isn’t that a legitimate worry?


I do not agree with 9 year olds having sex and do not agree with Lee that it is “great.” Children aged 9 cannot consent to sex. I disapproved and told him so. I advised Lee to contact Childline and LGBT youth groups. I told him he should not be having sex with adults, that he should report his abusers and, that if he was going to have sex, it would be better to have sex with young people his own age. He assured me that he was being supervised by his social worker and by a woman in her 30s who he had befriended and was helping look after him.

Do you believe that Lee was raped or sexually assaulted by the adult men who slept with him when he was 12 years old? 

 Yes, Lee was raped when 12 years old. The persons responsible should be jailed.

You say that Lee “has a serious problem” and then describe how the legal system has created that problem. Do you think that was the most pressing problem in Lee’s life? Particularly given how Lee details his sex with older men and working as an underage prostitute to fund his drug habit. 

Lee should not have been having sex with older men, doing drugs or working as a prostitute. I told him so. I urged him to get support and to report his abusers to the police.

Do you think it was appropriate to say about a minor who had been having sex with men “since he was 12″ that he was ‘bright, articulate, sure of himself, and mature beyond his years” and “It’s hard to imagine anyone getting away with taking advantage of him.” Particularly given that Lee himself had said he was “tied up and raped” by one of the men he prostituted himself to.

I made that comment about Lee as he presented himself when I spoke to him. It was a factual statement about his maturity, which is reflected in his answers during the interview. I was shocked and distressed when Lee said he had been sexually exploited and raped. I told him that the things done to him by adults were serious crimes and that even though they had happened years previously he should report the assailants to the police. He said he did not know their names or where to find them. I told him he should go the police anyway.

Do you think it was appropriate to engage in a discussion with a young boy, in which he reveals that he has been sleeping with adult men since he was 12, and to then print an interview in which the phrases “sexual assault”, “rape” and/or “child abuse” do not appear once?

I was quoting Lee’s words. He did not use the words that you cite. However, I would class what happened to him as sexual assault, child abuse and rape. But the interview was about him, not me. This interview was a journalistic piece for a magazine and my duty as an occasional professional journalist is to be as objective as possible and not impose my views on the interviewee. The article used the words Lee used. And I several times challenged him. What happened to him was criminal abuse and the abusers should behind bars.

The interview seems to have been removed from your site. Why was it removed?

The interview is not removed from my website. Having it on my website does not mean that I approve of what Lee said or did. He is entitled to his view. You and I are entitled to disagree with it. This is called free speech. It is vital to listen to young people’s personal experiences and perspectives, even if we disagree with them; just as it is vital to listen to people who say they were abused and to prosecute their abusers. All young people should be listened to. Reporting the facts and a young person’s opinion is not an endorsement. Other items on my website quote various human rights abusers. By so doing, I am not supporting them. I am merely reporting what they said.

Other questions

Can you confirm the photos, which show you holding an OutRage! placard which says “16 is just the start” are authentic and explain what the phrase “16 is just the start” is referring to?

The OutRage! placard “16 is just a start” referred to the fact the battle for an equal age of consent at 16 was just the start of a larger campaign to repeal all anti-gay discrimination. The adjacent placards in the same photos indicated that. They said: “Scrap ALL anti-gay laws.”

You’ve said recently that you don’t support adults having sex with a child, but given your views on the age of majority could you define for me what you mean when you say “child”? Do you measure that in age or do you measure that in mental and emotional maturity? 

Adults should not have sex with youngsters under 16 in any circumstances or with a person over 16 who lacks mental and emotional maturity. They cannot give informed consent by knowing and understanding the implications and consequences of a sexual relationship.

Do you still agree with your statement, made during your speech to the Sex and Law Conference in Sheffield in 2010, that “Despite what the puritans and sex-haters say, under-age sex is mostly consenting, safe and fun. It does not result in any damage. If there is harm caused, it is usually not as a result of sex per se”?

I was talking about consenting under-age sexual relations involving young people of similarages. Clearly, even among teens around the same age, some people are damaged by consensual sexual experiences. This damage may be because of the sexual act or because the relationship involved emotional abuse and harm. Perhaps they were treated badly by their girlfriend or boyfriend who cheated on them or denied them love and affection. That is deplorable. Because of possible sexual and emotional harm, I said in that same speech it is better for young people to wait until they are older and more mature. I advised that it is best if young people do not have sex at an early age.

Factually speaking, most under-age sex involves young people of similar ages, around 14-16. It rarely involves people much older. When it does involve adults, I condemn that and believe those adults should be prosecuted. Child sex abuse is grotesque and the perpetrators should be jailed.

Do you hold the view that the negative impact of paedophilia upon children is primarily due to the way in which society views sexuality and sexual acts, particularly those involving children, rather than directly caused by any sex acts that may occur?

I do not agree with that statement. Paedophilia is abusive, harmful, degrading and damaging. It is vile, unacceptable and should not be tolerated. When under-age sex involves genuine consent between young people of similar ages, say between two 15 year-olds, negative and hostile reactions may cause the young person more harm psychologically and emotionally than the sexual act. Again, I stress that I do not encourage or support under-age sex. It is best if young people wait until they are older.

Finally, let me repeat: Child sex abuse is never right. It is always wrong. The same goes for those who justify or excuse paedophilia. They are never right and always wrong. Adults should not have sex with children full stop, end of story.

Peter Tatchell – 13 July 2020