CLIMATE protesters should target the bosses of fossil fuel companies and the banks behind them rather than disrupt the public to win support, Peter Tatchell has said.

The veteran gay rights campaigner said Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion must keep the general public on side and not antagonise them.

“I think a bit of public disruption is okay, but not stopping people from getting to work, not long periods disrupting the flow of traffic and so on,” he said.

Mr Tatchell was speaking on the Edinburgh Fringe at For The Many Live with broadcaster Iain Dale and former Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith at the Pleasance EICC.

A campaigner since his teens in his native Australia, Mr Tatchell, 71, spent decades championing equal rights for LGBT people and fighting discrimination.

He said his approach had always been to target culpable people and institutions, win over public opinion, and give politicians the confidence to legislate for change.

Asked about Just Stop Oil, which has repeatedly disrupted traffic and sporting events, he said he had been part of "some quite provocative, confrontational things which were necessary in the context because the powers that be would not listen and not negotiate.

“But we were always very mindful to seek to appeal to public support, because we felt that if we had public support that would give politicians the confidence to change.

“The climate emergency is so severe that we have to do something. 

“I don’t agree with every single thing that Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion have done, but I think they have been hugely successful in putting the climate emergency on the public and political agenda.

The Herald: Peter Tatchell

“I’ve said to them time and time again, I think you should target the Government and all the Government ministers and MPs who have backed the 100 new oil and gas licences.

“You know, Superglue yourselves to their front doors or their cars. I’m fine about that. But of course you’ll pay the consequences.

“The same with the directors and managers of the fossil fuel companies and the banks that are funding the fossil fuel companies. Those should be the targets. 

“I think the public would be much more on side if that was the focus.

“Just Stop Oil’s justification is that they have tried doing that and got negligible publicity. I think you just have to keep on trying. Got to keep the public on side.”

He also called for a “civilised, humane, polite discussion” on transgender rights between people who disagreed, saying he was critical of trans-critics but not hostile or abusive.

He said: “Both sides have to cool it. Even JK Rowling, despite my criticisms, she says she supports trans human rights and equality.

"For most of these people the only issue is whether trans people should be allowed in women-only spaces. That’s the only issue. And their position has been unjustly misrepresented. They’re not damning trans people per se. 

“They’re not saying that trans people should be denied equality. They’re not tolerating discrimination. They’re saying on this one issue they disagree.”

However he said the same “trans critics” lacked evidence to back up their fears.