Campaign for Homosexual Equality

The Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) is 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 1970s when it became involved in controversy by campaigning for an age of consent of 12 and support of a pro-paedophile group, its membership was horrified at the association and significant numbers left.[1][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


One of fifteen sponsored memorials on Leeds Rainbow Plaque Trail, in aid of Leeds Pride, commemorating the Swarthmore Centre as safe space in 1971 where the group met.[3]

In 1969 the Committee for Homosexual Equality (CHE) was formed with aims to becoming a national body for England and Wales, meeting at the Swarthmoor Centre in Leeds in 1971[3] and later in the same year changed its name to the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE).[4] London Friend was set up in London in 1972 intended to provide counselling.[5] 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, then age 21.[6] by 1973 it held the first national gay rights conference in Morecambe.[7] CHE was, in this period, claiming 5,000 members and some 100 local groups.[8]

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.[9] It organised a national Homosexual Equality Rally in London.[10] The rally was supported by the women's movement and people from ethnic minorities.[11] 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.[11] Those who turned out for the rally did so to support the extension of constitutional rights and universal values to lesbian and gay people.[11] CHE and London Friend shared offices and had close links until 1974,[9] it was separated from CHE in 1975.[12] Membership numbers fell away from 1977 as the group leadership supported a paedophile organisation and proposed an age of consent of 12.[1]At a fringe meeting of the organisation held in Coventry in 1978 a new separate international organisation was formed, named ILGA.[13]

In 2005, the organisation received a substantial bequest from a former member, Derek Oyston of Gateshead.[14] 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.[15]

Lord Smith of Finsbury became a vice-president of the in February 2009.[16] In 2010 the organisation commissioned a book titled Amiable Warriors: A Space to Breathe, 1954 - 1973, by Peter Scott-Presland to write their own account of the organisations history.[17]

The organisation received the 2014 Alan Turing Memorial Award as part of the Homo Heroes Awards ceremony organised by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation.[18] 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."[19]


In May 1974, CHE suggested an age of consent of 12.[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 the press.[1][22] In 1976, CHE wanted to hold its annual conference at Scarborough but was turned down by the Council. In 1977 CHE approached Llandudno but was once again turned away and at its Nottingham conference that year again passed a further motion supporting the Paedophile Information Exchange.[23][24][25] CHE continued its campaign in support of the Paedophile groups chairman Tom O'Carroll's who had been removed from his post at the Open University.

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.[26]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c de Castella, Tom. "How did the pro-paedophile group PIE exist openly for 10 years?". BBC. BBC. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  2. ^ "DANGO RECORDS". Database of Archives of Non-Government Organisations (DANGO). University of Birmingham. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Rainbow Plaque Trail". Leeds Civic Trust. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  4. ^ Brittain, Victoria (28 August 1971). "An alternative to sexual shame: Impact of the new militancy among homosexual groups". The Times. London. p. 12.
  5. ^ Duffy, Nick (2 June 2016). "London LGBT charity honoured with Queen's Award for Voluntary Service". Pink News. Pink News. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  6. ^ "History of lesbian, gay and bisexual equality". Stonewall. 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2009.
  7. ^ Chartres, John (9 April 1973). "Homosexuals seek revision of discriminatory laws". The Times. London. p. 2.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ a b "Speak for yourself, Gay's The Word". British Film Institute. London Weekend TV 1974. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  10. ^ Addison, Paul, & Jones, Harriet. (2008). A Companion to Contemporary Britain, 1939-2000. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. p.394. ISBN 0-470-99619-6
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "The history of CHE". 10 October 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  13. ^ Paternotte, David. "The history of ILGA: 1978/2012". ILGA. ILGA. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  14. ^ Ross Burgess. "CHE > Derek Oyston". Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  15. ^ Green, Jessica (2009). "Campaign for Homosexual Equality disaffiliated from Liberty". WayBackMachine. PinkNews. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  16. ^ "CHE > In the news".
  17. ^ Amiable Warriors Volume One, Chapter 2; "Celebration of the life of Allan Horsfall", Campaign for Homosexual Equality.
  18. ^ "I need a (Homo) Hero! Manchester's LGBT stars honoured in awards". Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  19. ^ "Campaign for Homosexual Equality". Campaign for Homosexual Equality. 22 February 2015. Retrieved 25 March 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. ^ "Child-lovers win fight for role in Gay Lib". The Guardian. London. 26 August 1975. Archived from the original on 20 October 2015.
  23. ^ "Britain's Apologists For Child Abuse". Standpoint. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  24. ^ "Paedophile talks backed by homosexuals". The Times. London. 30 August 1977. Archived from the original on 1 November 2015.
  25. ^ Thomson, Mathew (28 November 2013). Lost Freedom: The Landscape of the Child and the British Post-War Settlement. OUP. ISBN 9780191665097.
  26. ^ Green, Jessica (16 July 2009). "Campaign for Homosexual Equality disaffiliated from Liberty". Pink News. Retrieved 30 January 2011.

External linksEdit