Scroll To Top

Early Gay Rights Advocate Dies

Early Gay Rights Advocate Dies


Antony Grey, an early gay rights activist in the United Kingdom, died April 30 at 82 following a struggle with leukemia, reports The Times of London.

Grey, born Edgar Wright, began volunteering for the Homosexual Law Reform Society in 1958, pushing to end the criminalization of gay sex in Britain. He is often referred to as the nation's first gay rights activist and was instrumental in organizing support for passage of the Sexual Offenses Act by parliament in 1967. The act repealed a section of the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act, known as "the blackmailers' charter," which sent renowned gay scribe Oscar Wilde to jail in 1895. When combined with the Vagrancy Act of 1898, the "blackmailer's charter" made it illegal for gay men "to so much as flirt with one another," according to the Times.

Although considered imperfect by activists, the 1967 law paved the way for greater tolerance of gay men and women in the United Kingdom. Lord Arran, one of the sponsors of the bill, said that Grey had "done more than any single man to bring this social problem to the notice of the public."

Fellow British LGBT activist Peter Tatchell paid Grey tribute on Wednesday.

"Successive Labour and Conservative governments deserve severe condemnation for ailing to honour this truly great social reformer," he said in a statement. "I salute Antony Grey and his trail-blazing contribution to LGBT equality and human rights. We all walk in his shadow."

Grey leaves behind his partner of 49 years, Eric Thompson. In 1998, Grey was awarded the Pink Paper Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2007 he accepted the Stonewall Hero of the Year honor.

"The road to homosexual emancipation which I and a few other embarked upon following the Wolfenden Report has been a long and arduous one," he said in accepting the 2007 award. "But now here we are, and we can be thankful for what has been achieved. At least, we are able to celebrate our identities in this magnificent building, instead of being thrown off the top of it for being who we are -- as some of our enemies would like to happen. But the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and ours is a never-ending struggle not just for our own rights, but for human rights."

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Ryan Holman