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Seeking Justice for the Gay Community

CHE (Campaign for Homosexual Equality) submitted a motion on a Statute of Limitation to this year's Annual General Meeting of LIBERTY (The National Council for Civil Liberty).

The motion had been passed unanimously by CHE in 2008 and CHE has been affiliated to LIBERTY for more than 20 years.

But just submitting this motion has resulted in LIBERTY chucking CHE out – after saying the motion was unacceptable for debate.

So much for LIBERTY
So much for free speech
So much for fair debate

More news later

Money Appeal

All the time we’ve been operating we’ve only had our own little bits of money Plus sometimes £20 or so for doing a talk to a Gay group - So we’ve not had a bank account.
But CHE have now given us £500 in a cheque. Ta.
And we’ve opened a bank account so we can now appeal for funds.

We also now have a PAYPAL account!

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The successors to CHE were STONEWALL the professional lobby group who pushed through the final tidies to the law in a professional lobby way – and Peter Tatchell's OUTRAGE who want freedoms we had won to happen in Zimbabwe and abroad, and wanted a more radical shake of sex politics/ thought. In fact on reflection STONEWALL is more like a successor to the lobby effort of Antony Grey's Homosexual Law Reform Society, and Peter Tatchell's OUTRAGE more a successor to the militant Gay Lib of Bob Mellors.

Gay Pride ? – well that today is a parade of hedonists – it's a Mardi Gras and politics have gone. The need has passed. CHE trod the broad and middle ground – in a politically populist way and there's no need for that now. So – although CHE does still exist – it is no way what it was and no other movement has or could come along and do what it did – for that time has thankfully passed and been won.

The founder of CHE was Allan Horsfall – a colliery clerk, and his partner Harold Pollard a primary school head. Allan is still alive and lives in Bolton, Greater Manchester. Early on CHE was greatly helped by the Church of England in Manchester Diocese who provided the early meeting rooms at the Board for Social Responsibility offices in Blackfriars Road, Salford. And provided CHE with its first chairman – a non gay Scot, Colin Harvey, who worked full time as a lay worker for the Church of England Manchester Diocese and was a greats supporter of gay rights.

CHE's early development was also greatly helped by the then Bishop of Middleton (Manchester), another non gay, Ted Wickham, a Cockney, who was willing to stand out and be the first Vice-President of the early CHE.

As was Neil Pearson, a leading Manchester solicitor, who was the first President.

CHE collected a GOOD BODY, an honourable body, of Vice Presidents – these things were very necessary in those days – but the main bulk of the early committees – and later of all committees were of gays themselves who were the first to “come out”.

Other vice-presidents included:-
Professor Colin Adamson, D.SC., M.Sc,Eng, MIEE The Very Rev. Alfred Jowett, MA, Dean of Manchester
Sir Alfred Ayer, FBA Peter Katin
Lord Beaumont of Whitely Josephine Klein, PhD
Humphry Berkeley Dr Arnold Linken, MB, B.Ch
Anthony Blond Peter Maxwell Davies
Bridgid Brophy George Melly
Dr R. W. Burslem, M.D., FRCOG Dr Jonathan Miller
Robert Chartham PhD Richard Neville
Rev. Tony Cross, MA Rev Dr Norman Pittenger
Michael De-la-Noy Harold Pollard
Margaret Drabble Rt Rev John Robinson
Martin Ennals Michael Scofield
Professor Anthony Flew, MA Dr Maurice Silverman, MD, DPM.
Peter Hain Tony Smythe
Ian Harvey Donald Soper
Dr James Hemming Peter Wildeblood
David Hockney Angus Wilson
H. Montgomery Hyde Dr Michael Winstanley

    The work of CHE fell roughly into two areas –

    • There was the lobbying of the parliamentarians to change the law – and the writing and speaking to change public opinion – from a position where all male gay sex was illegal.
    • Was to set up a social life – for gays who in those days had no open clubs, no press – all social life was done in secret: and in fear.

This made life “exciting” – for some. But horrid for most: and clearly unfair and wrong. An early supporter of CHE was Reg Kilduff, the landlord of The Rembrandt hotel on Sackville Street, who was the first publican – gay himself, running a noted “queer bar” – prepared gingerly to let his name be attached openly to a gay list. Today of course every newspaper publishes gay event lists – but not then. Nobody dared. To be anything gay was a shame - a love that dared not speak its name. The young generation have no idea how things were.

And CHE were the first to come out – and in Manchester this movement was before the New York City Stonewall riots. From Manchester, CHE began to publish the very first lists of gay bars/gay meeting places, and to hold socials in hired rooms and publicly begin the first moves to openly ask for licenses to operate property an as an open gay club. We were always turned down. And this activity got CHE into considerable hot water with the London campaigners for law change who said, "You're rocking the boat". Indeed Lord Arran, who had passed through the House of Lords a bill said that said that gays could in private have relationships (if they were over 21) – he declared in the Evening Standard he'd never have pushed through such a bill if he'd realised gays would be wanting to have their own clubs.

Looking back, at times there were hilarious moments, particularly for the organisers who had bravely “come out” and passed through the first scary barriers. But we must not forget - for the membership of CHE in those early days just to be a member took great courage – for queers did live then under real fear and the repression so many lived under often resulted in blackmail and tragic suicides. No greater example than that in Manchester of the mathematician Alan Turing.

The "promised land" for CHE was to live in a world like the Dutch comrades were creating with the COC organisation in Amsterdam – caring and fun, yet serious and respected. But when CHE applied for a licence to run such a club in Burnley, the outcry was furiously led by a Roman Catholic priest beneath the slogan – “We'll have no buggers' clubs in Burnley”. CHE persisted – constantly meetings were held – we took the main Central Library in Burnley: advertised on the buses. Ray Gosling chaired the packed and volatile public meeting.

And in the fight for clubs -“Esquire Clubs” they were to be called - the directors were not only Allan Horsfall, broadcaster Ray Gosling but the M.P. for Bootle the late Alan Roberts. Let us salute the pioneers. Our Esquire clubs never happened, but what we wanted has. It was a worthwhile battle – decently fought – and won. Partly because CHE went public – came out of the closet and argued common sense rights.

No disrespect to all the other people who played their part – but CHE played a leading role in the 1960s THE most important period in the fight for liberty.



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