For the latest instalment of MediaWatch – a GAY TIMES Original Podcast Series – host Shahmir Sanni is joined by prominent human rights and LGBTQ+ activist Peter Tatchell.

In the episode they discuss a recent column by Sonia Sodha which was published by The Observer and takes aim at Stonewall’s integral and unwavering support of trans rights here in the UK.

The LGBTQ+ charity has faced attacks from outside and within the community for their work to protect trans rights, and Sonia focuses particularly on the transphobic, dangerous and incorrect narrative that trans women should be feared and denied access to single-sex spaces that align with their gender identity.

“Women must be free to express the view that it is risky to allow men who self-identify as women to access female-only spaces as default,” she wrote. “It’s not theoretical: abusive men go to great lengths to access female victims and we have never been able to rely on institutions such as the police and prisons to protect us.”

She added: “Through its Diversity Champions scheme, in which 850 organisations, including many public bodies, pay it to accredit their diversity policies, Stonewall has the power to frighten gender-critical women into silence for fear of being wrongly accused of hate speech.”

This use of fear tactics is used to discriminate against communities time and time again by the British press; whether it be Muslims, trans people, Black people or refugees. It’s a method that has been used by the press numerous times during Peter’s career as an activist.

“The idea that being trans is somehow a threat to women, that it’s somehow colluding with the rape of women, with domestic violence, with sexual harassment in the workplace and in the street, this is a monstrous distortion,” Tatchell says on MediaWatch.

“A monstrous demonisation of a vulnerable community that is under attack and which itself disproportionately suffers from prejudice, discrimination, hate crime, violence and rape.”

Tatchell adds: “Having lived through the way in which lesbian, gay and bisexual people were demonised in the 1970s, 80 and 90s, I’m rather shocked that the British press now seems to think it’s okay to have a go at trans people with the same kind of tactics, the same kind of vilification that we LGBs suffered decades ago.”

Sanni and Tatchell also look back at a MediaWatch column from GAY TIMES Magazine back in September 1986, that spotlights similar fear tactics that were used to discriminated against gay men during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

You can listen to the latest episode of MediaWatch now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

MediaWatch started as a monthly column which ran in GAY TIMES Magazine from 1984 to 2008, analysing and critiquing the way the mainstream press were reporting on LGBTQ+ issues.

GAY TIMES has refreshed the MediaWatch format as a new six-part GAY TIMES Original Podcast Series, which are released fortnightly.

You can watch new documentary Hating Peter Tatchell on Netflix now. The film takes a look at some of Peter Tatchell’s most high-profile activism throughout his career, and how he was demonised by the press for standing up for marginalised communities.

Peter Tatchell is also organising a Reclaim Pride march later this summer on 24 July. Details on the event are below: