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The Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) was a membership organisation in the United Kingdom with a stated aim from 1969 to promote legal and social equality for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in England and Wales, active in the mid 1970's when it became involved in controversy, after which its membership numbers fell.[1] It is no longer active.[2]

Campaign for Homosexual Equality
CHE logo.png
CHE logo
FounderAllan Horsfall and Colin Harvey
OriginsHomosexual Law Reform Society
Formerly called
Committee for Homosexual Equality



Plaque commemorating the Committee for Homosexual Equality on a former meeting place in Leeds

CHE grew out of the North Western branch of the Homosexual Law Reform Society (HLRS), the North Western Homosexual Law Reform Committee (NWHLRC). NWHLRC was founded in Manchester by Allan Horsfall and Colin Harvey in 1964. The formal launch took place at a public meeting on 7 October 1964 at Church House in Manchester. After the Sexual Offences Act 1967 came into force,[3] The NWHLRC, which in 1967 had already fallen out with Antony Grey of HLRS/Albany Trust over the northerners' wish to press ahead with the establishment of gay clubs,[4] felt on the contrary that much remained to be done.

In 1969 the Committee for Homosexual Equality (CHE) was formed with aims to becoming a national body for England and Wales and in 1971 the organisations name changed to the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE).[5] London Friend was set up in London in 1972 intended to provide counselling.[6] In 1972, CHE members took part in the first London Pride at Hyde Park, followed by a march to Trafalgar Square, nominally to protest at the age of consent.[7] by 1973 it held the first national gay rights conference in Morecambe.[8] CHE was, in this period, claiming 5,000 members and some 100 local groups.[9]

In 1974, CHE appeared alongside London Friend in a documentary titled 'Speak for yourself' produced by London weekend Television at which time the organisations offices were in at 22 Great Windmill Street, London and Friend at 47 Church St, London NW8. The organisations were working closely together through social events, CHE at the time had 4000 members and was involved in campaigns and politics whereas Friend was a counselling service.[10] It organised a national Homosexual Equality Rally in London.[11] The rally was supported by the women's movement and people from ethnic minorities.[12] Where earlier actions had concentrated on legal protection from criminal persecution, this rally was part of gay and lesbian people starting to establish a distinct sexual identity.[12] Those who turned out for the rally did so to support the extension of constitutional rights and universal values to lesbian and gay people.[12] CHE and London Friend shared offices and had close links until 1974,[10] it was separated from CHE in 1975.[13] At a fringe meeting of the organisation held in Coventry in 1978 a new separate international organisation was formed, named ILGA.[14]

In 2005, the organisation received a substantial bequest from a former member, Derek Oyston of Gateshead.[15] In early 2009 the organisation were campaigning to prevent cases of historic child sex abuse being prosecuted if raised more than five years after the young person gained age of majority.[citation needed]

Lord Smith of Finsbury became a vice-president of the in February 2009.[16] In 2010 the organisation commissioned the Peter Scott-Presland to write the organisations history. Allan Horsfall, founder and Life President of CHE, died in August 2012, age 84.[17]

In 2014, to commemorate CHE's 50th anniversary, a plaque was unveiled by the Bishop of Manchester and the Lord Mayor of Manchester at Church House, the offices of the Anglican Diocese of Manchester, where the first NWHLRC meeting had been held in 1964.[18] and the organisation received the 2014 Alan Turing Memorial Award as part of the Homo Heroes Awards ceremony organised by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation.[19] From 2015 the organisation has stated on its page that it "no longer has the resources to offer assistance to individuals experiencing discrimination, whether in the UK or elsewhere."[2]


In May 1974, CHE suggested a basic age of consent of 16, but 12 "in cases where a defendant could prove the existence of meaningful consent".[20][21]

In 1975, CHE's conference support for the freedom of speech of the pro-paedophile group Paedophile Information Exchange caused controversy in the media, with accusations of support for paedophilia in parts of the press.[22][23] This continued in its 1977 Nottingham conference with a further motion condemning press harassment of PIE[24][25][26] and against PIE's chairman Tom O'Carroll's dismissal from Open University, while calling for the National Union of Journalists to join their campaign on anti-discrimination grounds.[27]

In 1976, CHE wanted to hold its annual conference at Scarborough but was turned down by the Council. Campaigning was begun urging unions and other groups to boycott the resort. It was a campaign which was to prove highly successful costing the town millions in lost revenue. [28]

In 1977, CHE approached Llandudno but was once again turned away resulting in a protracted, and a very public row between CHE and council officials. [29]

In April 2009, Liberty terminated CHE's affiliation over concerns “In particular, your motion on child sex abuse is also clearly contrary to the objectives of Liberty, as listed in Article 2 of Liberty’s constitution.” other concerns were regarding the nature and size of the CHE membership, governance structures, constitution, electoral process, policy-making process, financial transparency, recent issues and commitment to the objectives of Liberty".[30]

Further readingEdit

  • Peter Scott-Presland, Amiable Warriors: A history of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and its times. Volume One: A Space to Breathe, Paradise Press, 2015. ISBN 978-1-904585-75-6.[31]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "DANGO RECORDS". Database of Archives of Non-Government Organisations (DANGO). University of Birmingham. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Campaign for Homosexual Equality". Campaign for Homosexual Equality. 22 February 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  3. ^ Bedell, Geraldine (24 June 2007). "Coming out of the dark ages". The Observer. London.
  4. ^ Grey, Antony (1992). Quest for Justice: Towards Homosexual Emancipation. London: Sinclair-Stevenson. ISBN 1-85619-136-2.
  5. ^ Brittain, Victoria (28 August 1971). "An alternative to sexual shame: Impact of the new militancy among homosexual groups". The Times. London. p. 12.
  6. ^ Duffy, Nick (2 June 2016). "London LGBT charity honoured with Queen's Award for Voluntary Service". Pink News. Pink News. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  7. ^ "History of lesbian, gay and bisexual equality". Stonewall. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2009.
  8. ^ Chartres, John (9 April 1973). "Homosexuals seek revision of discriminatory laws". The Times. London. p. 2.
  9. ^ Weeks, Jeffrey (1977). Coming out: homosexual politics in Britain, from the nineteenth century to the present. London: Quartet Books. p. 210. ISBN 0-7043-3175-6.
  10. ^ a b "Speak for yourself, Gay's The Word". British Film Institute. London Weekend TV 1974. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  11. ^ Addison, Paul, & Jones, Harriet. (2008). A Companion to Contemporary Britain, 1939-2000. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. p.394. ISBN 0-470-99619-6
  12. ^ a b c Hunt, Lynn; Thomas R. Martin; et al. (2008). The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures, Vol. C Since 1740. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's.
  13. ^ "The history of CHE". 10 October 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  14. ^ Paternotte, David. "The history of ILGA: 1978/2012". ILGA. ILGA. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  15. ^ Ross Burgess. "CHE > Derek Oyston". Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  16. ^ "CHE > In the news".
  17. ^ Amiable Warriors Volume One, Chapter 2; "Celebration of the life of Allan Horsfall", Campaign for Homosexual Equality, cited by "Alan Horsfall" article on the UK LGBT Archive wiki.
  18. ^ "Gay rights plaque unveiled at Manchester movement's 50th birthday – but bishop warns there's still long way to go". Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  19. ^ "I need a (Homo) Hero! Manchester's LGBT stars honoured in awards". Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  20. ^ Waites, Matthew (2005, op.cit., pp. 132 and 243, Note 6.6)
  21. ^ Gay News, no. 46, 9 May 1974, p.3 – 'CHE Report angers reformers'.
  22. ^ "How did the pro-paedophile group PIE exist openly for 10 years?". BBC News. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  23. ^ "Child-lovers win fight for role in Gay Lib". The Guardian. London. 26 August 1975. Archived from the original on 20 October 2015.
  24. ^ "Britain's Apologists For Child Abuse". Standpoint. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  25. ^ "Paedophile talks backed by homosexuals". The Times. London. 30 August 1977. Archived from the original on 1 November 2015.
  26. ^ Thomson, Mathew (28 November 2013). Lost Freedom: The Landscape of the Child and the British Post-War Settlement. OUP. ISBN 9780191665097.
  27. ^ "Gays join PIE fight". The Guardian. 24 September 1977. Archived from the original on 1 November 2015.
  28. ^ Shopland, Norena 'Not on our seafront’ from Forbidden Lives: LGBT stories from Wales, Seren Books, 2017
  29. ^ Shopland, 2017
  30. ^ Green, Jessica (16 July 2009). "Campaign for Homosexual Equality disaffiliated from Liberty". Pink News. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  31. ^ "Amiable Warriors". 8 March 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2015.

External linksEdit