Antony Grey and the Homosexual law reform society

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Antony Grey | Unknown photographer/The Guardian | 14205

The Homosexual Law Reform Society was the UK’s first organisation to campaign for the legalisation of homosexuality. It was set up on 12 May 1958 to campaign for the adoption of the recommendations of the Wolfenden Committee Report of the previous year, since the Government had shown no inclination to do anything with the Report and its recommendations.

The people who set up the Society were not themselves gays and lesbian. They were celebrities of the time including Trevor Huddleston, Clement Attlee, Julian Huxley and Bertrand Russell. However they appointed a gay man, Antony Grey, (not his real name), to be its full time secretary, in 1962-3 and the Society then became more active. The organisation was seen as very establishment and not very representative of the majority of gays and lesbians at the time.

A charitable organisation related to the Society, the Albany Trust, was also set up and continues to operate.

The Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) was formed out of the HLRS.

Although the law was changed in 1967, the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and the Gay Liberation Front considered that the new law did not go far enough and blamed the HLRS for what they saw as a weakening of the Wolfenden Committee’s proposals, calling the HLRS/Albany Trust a conformist outfit of “Uncle Toms”.

The real name of Antony Grey was Edgar Wright. In the quarter-century 1931-1955, when Grey was growing up, British police pulled in 26,676 men from Ulster and Shetland to the Isle of Wight on charges of consensual adult homosexuality. These were the years when it was very sensible to have a gay name and not reveal your real identity.

Edgar Wright (Antony Grey) died on April 30, 2010 aged 82 and was survived by his long term partner Eric Thompson. The Times Obituary for Antony Grey reveals the large debt the UK gay community owes him and his work.


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