As far back as you can look, you can see that humanists have not just been LGBT-friendly, but champions of LGBT people and our human rights. To mark LGBT History Month, here’s a history of LGBT Humanists UK and some of the country’s most prominent LGBT humanists.
LGBT Humanists UK
Humanist activism for equality stretches back to our foundation in the 1890s and (through individual humanists) earlier still. Humanists were the principal organising force behind simultaneous campaigns in the 1960s to end corporal punishment, introduce abortion rights, and decriminalise homosexuality. A J Ayer (President of Humanists UK from 1966-1970), though not gay himself, was President of the Homosexual Law Reform Association and Bertrand Russell (Vice President of Humanists UK in the 1960s) was on the board.
Our section LGBT Humanists UK (originally known as the Gay Humanist Group) dates back to 1979 – formed in response to the Gay News blasphemy trial; a high profile trial which exposed not only Britain’s archaic and obscure blasphemy laws, but the rampant homophobia of the time.
In the last four decades, LGBT Humanists has blazed a trail arguing for LGBT liberation and has played a key role in achieving milestones such as the decriminalisation of gay sex, ending Section 28, and the equalisation of the age of consent.
Humanists UK celebrants were conducting same-sex humanist weddings decades before the legalisation of same-sex marriage. Humanists UK was later a prominent campaigner for legal same-sex marriages in Britain, working closely with the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group on the passing of the Same Sex Marriage Act 2013.
The Gay Humanist Group also campaigned for legal same-sex marriages since its inception in the late 1970s. In 2001, the group campaigned heavily for gay couples to take part in the London Partnership Register – the policy which later inspired the Civil Partnerships Act and eventually the Same Sex Marriage Act.
Today, Humanists UK continues to fight for a ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’.
Here are some photos from the archives!
Prominent LGBT humanists
Today Humanists UK can count prominent LGBT figures such as Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig, John Amaechi, Peter Tatchell, Maureen Duffy, Adèle Anderson, and Angela Eagle MP among its patrons. Other prominent humanists have included LGBT writers Virginia Woolf and E M Forster, the mathematician Alan Turing, and the economist John Maynard Keynes.