Peter Tatchell, right, and his colleague Pliny Soocoormanee, left, are alleged to be prevented from leaving their hotel after planning a protest at the IOC Session ©Peter Tatchell Foundation

Human rights activist Peter Tatchell has said he is being prevented from leaving his hotel room by police in Mumbai, having planned a protest at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session here.

The experienced British campaigner had wanted to use the second day of the Session on Monday (October 16) as an opportunity to make the case for the IOC to prioritise human rights considerations in its awarding of the 2036 Olympics and Paralympics.

However, Tatchell is unable to leave his hotel room in the Indian city of Mumbai, having been told by police that protests cannot take place near the venue for Session.

He had insisted he was permitted to protest under the Indian Constitution, but alleges he was told this right does not apply for foreign visitors.

"When I pointed out that the Indian Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and the right to assembly and peaceful protest, I was told 'these rights only apply to Indian citizens, foreigners do not have these rights'," Tatchell said.

"I was stunned.

"I assumed that India was a democracy and that peaceful protests by anyone were allowed.

"This ban is a blow to India’s democratic reputation.

"It is what we expect from police state regimes."

According to the Peter Tatchell Foundation, six police officers interrogated Tatchell and his colleague Pliny Soocoormanee for two hours at their hotel yesterday (October 13).

Tatchell's "preventative detention" was explained to him by police this morning, and some of his belongings searched with his diary photographed without a warrant.

Four police officers remain present in the lobby of the hotel to prevent Tatchell from leaving, the Foundation has reported.

Tatchell had requested to distribute a briefing document explaining human rights concerns in several of the countries interested in the 2036 Olympics and Paralympics, including China, Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt, Hungary and Qatar, to IOC members and journalists instead.

However, this was rebuffed.

"It is shocking that India feels so threatened by a simple briefing on human rights violations," Tatchell said.

"The officers were repeatedly on their mobile phones consulting with senior police colleagues and unknown others.

"The police were very courteous, friendly and charming throughout.

"Their extensive phone calls seemed to suggest that they were trying to find a compromise.

"But they appeared to be under orders from higher-ups to ban any action directed at the IOC.

"In the end, officers urged us not to protest and warned of possible detention and deportation if we did."

Peter Tatchell has been warned he faces legal action if he breaches his tourist visa in India ©Peter Tatchell Foundation
Peter Tatchell has been warned he faces legal action if he breaches his tourist visa in India ©Peter Tatchell Foundation

Next steps are being discussed with colleagues from the Foundation in London.

Tatchell was later served with a notice under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act 1946 signed by Kurla police station senior inspector Ashok Khot warning any activity which deviates from the purposes of his visit under a tourist visa would risk legal action.

"Right now, India feels like a police state, like what I experienced at the World Cups in Moscow in 2018 and Qatar in 2022," Tatchell claimed.

Tatchell reported he was arrested at the men's FIFA World Cup in Qatar last year, which was marred by concerns over the host nation's human rights record including its treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people, women and migrant workers, although the authorities denied the claims.

Speaking via video-link from his hotel room, Tatchell told insidethegames his requests to leave for the purpose of visiting tourist sites or purchasing food had also been denied.

The IOC Session is due to take place from tomorrow until Tuesday in Mumbai ©Getty Images
The IOC Session is due to take place from tomorrow until Tuesday in Mumbai ©Getty Images

He described his case as an "own goal" for India, and its reaction to what would have been "a very low-key protest" as "oppressive and intimidatory".

Tatchell acknowledged "far more serious" human rights concerns in India than his case, but argued it "does suggest if India hosted the 2036 Olympics it would have a zero-tolerance to any form of protest".

He said he had been in contact with the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, which had informed him being detained in a hotel is "very unusual" in India.

Tatchell is due to fly back to London on Wednesday (October 18).

insidethegames has contacted Kurla police station and the IOC for a comment.