Leo Abse, a
colorful Welsh politician who took a leading role in
liberalizing laws on homosexuality and divorce, has died at
Abse died Tuesday
in London, according to Leo Abse and Cohen, the Welsh
law firm he founded. The cause of death was not announced.
Noted for his
dandyish apparel, Abse also won attention with books that
attempted to apply psychoanalysis to Margaret Thatcher, Tony
Blair, and Bill Clinton.
Fellatio, Masochism, Politics and Love, published in
2000, expounded his views of Clinton's fling with
Monica Lewinsky and also delved into Blair's political
relationship with Gordon Brown, his successor as prime
knack for a long, catchy title, Abse wrote about Thatcher in
Margaret, Daughter of Beatrice in 1989, Wotan,
My Enemy: Can Britain Live With the Germans in the
European Union? in 1995, and The Man Behind
the Smile: Tony Blair and the Politics of
Perversion in 1997.
courageous, highly principled, very funny, and totally
unique," former Labour leader Neil Kinnock and his wife,
Glenys, said in a statement. "We are glad that he had
such a long and fulfilling life in which he gained so
much social progress by being an outstanding
Abse was a Labour
Party member of parliament from 1958 to 1987. He
sponsored legislation in 1967 that decriminalized private
sexual acts between adult men in England and Wales.
He also was
active in passing the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act
of 1984, which updated divorce laws, and the Children's Act
of 1975, which reformed laws on adoption and
"I had two great
advantages: I was born a Jew in Wales in the benign
climate of Welsh nonconformity; we believed we had a
covenant with God and God would look after us," Abse
said in an interview this year with Intelligent
"Being in a
minority within a minority, I had the benefit of being an
outsider without feeling inferior. And I never went to
university, which meant I wasn't groomed to conform."
wife of 40 years, died in 1996. Four years later Abse
married Ania Czeputkowska, a former shipyard worker from
Gdansk, Poland, who was 51 years his junior.
He is survived by
his wife, a son, a daughter, and his brother, the poet
Dannie Abse. (AP)