Pioneering LGBT rights organisation marks 50th anniversary

Besi Besemar October 8, 2014

Today, October 7 in 1964 was the first meeting of The Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE), a democratic voluntary organisation founded in 1964 as the North Western Committee for Homosexual Law Reform (NWHLRC) in Manchester.


TODAY in Manchester, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation (LGF) organised a tribute and celebration in honour of the 50th anniversary of the birth of the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) rights movement, recognising the formation of The North West Homosexual Law Reform Committee (NWHLRC) and later The Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE).

LGF have worked with The Diocese of Manchester to establish a special commemorative plaque at Church House on Deansgate in the city centre, marking the very first meetings of NWHLRC/CHE on October 7, 1964.

The plaque, also supported by Manchester City Council, was unveiled this afternoon, followed by an afternoon tea in the presence of The Lord Mayor of Manchester at Manchester Town Hall.

This evening, LGF’s annual Homo Heroes Awards ceremony will be held at a city centre hotel in Manchester to mark the 50th Anniversary of CHE. The awards, supported by Barclays, are now in their fourth year and provide an opportunity to celebrate those people that have made a difference to the lives of people in LGBT communities.

Paul Martin
Paul Martin

Paul Martin OBE, Chief Executive of the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, said: “Many people know a little about LGBT history from the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in 1967 but there is a story that goes back much further, one that Manchester and the North West played a key part in. The men and women behind CHE have made huge steps forward in fighting for LGBT rights for over half a century and we are delighted that representatives from CHE, who still have an important voice in campaigning for equality and respect for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people, will be attending the commemorations of this historic date in the LGBT calendar.”

Peter Tatchell
Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell, Patron of the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, LGBTI and human rights campaigner, added: “The North West Homosexual Law Reform Committee was Britain’s first grassroots gay rights organisation. Led by openly gay people such as Allan Horsfall, it organised one of the early gay law reform public meetings in the UK. Held in Manchester on 7 October 1964, it urged the decriminalisation of homosexuality. We celebrate the 50th anniversary of this meeting and salute the pioneers of the NWHLRC. They trailblazed for LGBTI freedom. We remember and honour them – with pride.”

Ross Burgess
Ross Burgess

Ross Burgess, representing CHE’s national Executive Committee, concluded: “This country has seen enormous changes since CHE’s foundation in 1964, when all sex between men was still illegal. CHE is proud to have played a great part in those changes, both by campaigning for law reform, and by organising a nationwide network of local groups that touched the lives of thousands of lesbian and gay people.  We are greatly honoured by this recognition in Manchester, where it all started, and our only regret is that so many of the early pioneers, such as Allan Horsfall and Ray Gosling, are no longer here to celebrate with us.”

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