Tyson Faces Gay Protests In Memphis
Tatchell plans US protests against Tyson's homophobia.
Boxing chiefs urged to stop homophobic campaign against Lennox Lewis.
Mike Tyson's homophobia will be the focus of protests in Memphis in the week before his world title fight against Lennox Lewis on 8 June 2002.
The fight's sponsors - the International Boxing Federation, based in New Jersey - will also come under fire for "failing to halt the homophobic campaign against Lewis".
British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell will travel to Memphis in late May to coordinate the protests.
"I want a meeting with Mike Tyson. I want him to drop his homophobic taunts. If he agrees to keep bigotry out of boxing, that will be great. If not, the protests will go ahead", said Tatchell.
Mr Tatchell last year attempted a citizen's arrest of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe on charges of human rights abuses. In April this year, he sought to have Henry Kissinger arrested by the British courts for war crimes in Indochina.
Tatchell has already stirred up a storm, accusing the IBF of "colluding with bigotry by failing to take disciplinary action against the homophobia of Mike Tyson and Hasim Rahman". Samples of their homophobic abuse follow below.
Responding to Tatchell's criticisms, last Friday (17 May) the President of the IBF, Marian Muhammad, told the BBC's Today Programme in London that she would consider an investigation into the homophobic campaign against Lewis.
Referring to taunts by rival boxers about Lewis's sexuality, Ms Muhammad, admitted: "I do not think it is right ... may be we should look into it".
After conceding that similar racist taunts would be unacceptable, Ms Muhammad told the BBC that there "may" be a case for disciplinary action.
Mr Tatchell has now written to Marian Muhammad, calling on the IBF to take action:
"If a white opponent taunted Lewis about his race, he would face disciplinary action. Why is there one rule for racism and another for homophobia?
"I am urging the IBF to issue a warning that racism, homophobia and other forms of prejudice are grounds for disciplinary action, including a substantial fine and the suspension of a fighter's licence to box", wrote Mr Tatchell.
Peter Tatchell - UK - 020 7403 1790 email@example.com
Marian Muhammad, IBF President - US - 973 414 0300
The homophobia of Tyson & Rahman
In his 17 May letter to Ms Muhammad, President of the IBF, Mr Tatchell cited examples of the homophobic campaign against Lennox Lewis:
"In the run-up to his world title fight in November 2001, Lewis was goaded regarding his sexual orientation by his opponent, Hasim Rahman.
"In August 2001, Rahman accused Lewis of a 'gay move' over his legal action to force a rematch between the two fighters. Two days before the world title fight last November, Rahman repeated his insinuations, making an issue of the fact that at the age of 36 Lewis has no children (source: The Guardian, London, 1 September and 15 November 2001).
"At the time, the boxing authorities - including the IBF - did nothing. Their inaction was de facto collusion with Rahman's vulgar bigotry.
"In January this year, after his fracas with Lennox Lewis at their press conference in New York, Mike Tyson poured out a stream of violent homophobic threats.
"Tyson said: 'I'll fuck you in the ass ... You fucking faggot. I'll fuck you in the ass till you love me, you faggot' (source: The Mirror, London, 23 January 2002).
"Although not specifically directed at Lewis, these anti-gay insults by Tyson fuelled the homophobic atmosphere that has been allowed to circulate around Lewis for the last year.
"It is appalling that the IBF and other boxing governing bodies have not taken disciplinary action against Hasim Rahman and Mike Tyson over their disgraceful homophobic rants. Even now, at this late stage, I urge you to do so.
"By failing to act against homophobia, the IBF is giving a green light to prejudice. It would never tolerate racism. Why is it tolerating homophobia?", queried Mr Tatchell in his letter to the IBF.
On 5 May, Mr Tatchell wrote to the British Boxing Board of Control urging the BBBC to liaise with international boxing authorities to take disciplinary action against Mike Tyson and Hasim Rahman over their homophobic insults.
The BBBC has so far declined to take any action - despite Regulation 25, which is supposed to prohibit words or behaviour that are "detrimental to the interests of Boxing or the public interest".
Further information: Simon Block, BBBC - UK - 02920 367 000
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