Famous gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is claiming that he was offered a knighthood, but turned it down.
You might have seen the recent complaints from Elton John’s husband, David Furnish, after he raised questions about how the honour system works in the UK. Apparently David learned that he was not granted a courtesy title, whereas a woman married to Sir Elton would be.
This prompted a rather length response from Peter Tatchell on The Guardian, and he said that while David’s complaint is valid in “pure equality terms”, the entire system is “corrupt”.
Peter continued: “Over the last decade, I’ve had three separate phone calls asking if I would be ‘minded’ to accept an OBE, knighthood or a peerage. The caller had a cut-glass accent. He declined to identify himself, saying it was just a ‘preliminary’ inquiry. It could have been genuine or possibly a tabloid sting. I have no idea who the man was or in what capacity he phoned me. In all three cases, I said no.”
“To me, the whole honours system stinks of class privilege and social snobbery. It is a relic of feudalism, with a taint of nepotism and corruption. Most of the top gongs go to business, military, diplomatic and civil-service bigwigs, and to major party donors and political and royal cronies. Even the Queen’s pastry chef and gardener have received honours. It is the establishment rewarding the establishment. I find it obscene.”
“In addition, too many honours have imperial titles, such as Member of the British Empire. The empire is rightly long gone. When it existed, hundreds of millions of people in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Pacific were colonised by Britain, ruled against their will, enslaved, exploited as cheap labour and had their lands stripped of natural resources. This sordid imperial history is not something worthy of commemoration with honours such as MBEs, OBEs and CBEs.”
“All existing honours should be abolished and replaced by an award system that has no feudal, royal or imperial connotations. It should be reserved for acts of extreme courage, unpaid community service and for outstanding humanitarian, scientific, intellectual, artistic or sporting achievement. No one should receive an award for doing mere long service or holding high office.”