Father Of UK Gay Rights Dies At 84
Pioneering British LGBT rights activist Allan Horsfall has died at the age of 84.
Horsfall became a local councilor in Nelson, north-west England, in the 1950s but started to discover inconsistencies in the way the law against homosexuality in Britain was applied. One public lavatory used by men meeting to have sex was well known to police and magistrates but there hadn’t been a conviction there in 30 years. But at other times, police would arrest a suspected gay or bisexual person, go through their address book and round up many of their contacts. They would then appear in court accused of being a ‘homosexual ring’, even though many of them didn’t know each other.Noted British activist Peter Tatchell: "Allan was arguably the grandfather of the modern gay rights movement in Britain. We all walk in Allan's shadow. He was active in LGBT campaigning until a few months before his death. Allan deserves a Queer State Funeral."
This inspired Horsfall to set up the Homosexual Law Reform Society. It’s first offices were donated by the Bishop of Middleton in Salford, Manchester in north-west England. This later became the Campaign for Homosexual Equality which at one point had thousands of members across the UK. Even after homosexuality was decriminalized in Britain in 1967, with an age of consent set at 21 for gay men in private, Horsfall continued his campaigning work which spanned 50 years. In 1998 he worked on the case of the Bolton Seven – a group of men who had sex with each other and got prosecuted because, although homosexuality was legal, group sex between men was not.