Heroic Architects of the 1967 Act

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith Andrew Lumsden and Peter Scott-Presland


What we CELEBRATE on 27 July 2017 is the astonishing achievements of the LGBT people who were behind the 1967 Act and who had to cope with imperfect Straight allies, such as Abse and Arran.

We were participants in the GLF and friends of the Secretary of the Homosexual Law Reform Society, Antony Grey, from the 1940s. We know to the full, the courage he displayed in the 1950s-through 1960s, together with other LGBT+ architects of the 1967 change, such as (gay) Tony Dyson, (Bi) Jacquetta Hawkes, statistician Eric Thompson and the Quakers Len Smith and Reiss Howard.

It’s no service to the memory of our pioneers to denigrate their work for the sake of rebuking the Straights, who to their eternal CREDIT tried, in the muddle of their own misunderstandings and absurdities, to get us out of the mess the 1861 and 1885 Offences Against the Person and Criminal Law Amendment Acts had got us into.

One of the most inspiring stories that LGBT and Straight students can ever hope to hear about our 20th century history is that moment, in July 1967, when England and Wales – having stood out against every modernising tendency in Continental Europe for nearly 200 years (if we count back to the French Revolution’s cancellation of the crime of sodomy) – suddenly drew ahead, even of the continental United States and began the process of reining in the police.

A bit about Andrew: As a result of being in London Gay Liberation Front, Andrew Lumsden was the first national journalist in the world to come out voluntarily (1971). He participated in the Gay News project (1972-1983), which gave heart to thousands of LGBT people in Britain and Ireland and which the Government accordingly tried to close down (1977). He is currently writing a book about Henry Labouchere MP (1831-1912), the author in Parliament of the anti-gay Labouchere Amendment of 1885, which was only finally repealed in 2003 by the efforts of a newer LGBT generation.

A bit about Peter: Peter has been working as a gay cabaret artiste, writer, journalist and activist since 1971.  He has run theatre companies, campaigned for disabled people, been a regular columnist for ‘Capital Gay’ and got up the noses of more people than you’ve had hot dinners.  He is currently working on the second volume of a 3-volume history of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, and an anthology show of gay life 1930-1970, called ‘Queer Things Are Happening to Me’.

Peter Scott-Presland, author of Amiable Warriors, Volume 1: A Space to Breathe, the story of the gay pioneers who founded the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, 1954-1973. Available from Amazon, or www.amiable-warriors.uk and a ripping good read!

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