Sunday, 8 March 2015

Alan Horsfall: The Birth Of CHE

IN 1960s Bolton, the plight of a group of gay men spurred a campaigner into action.

Allan Horsfall read a story in the Bolton Evening News (BEN) covering the trial of 10 men who were in court facing charges of having gay sex.

It was a pivotal moment in a lifelong campaign now covered in a new book Amiable Warriors, the first volume of which — A Space to Breathe — was published last month.

The book tells the history of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) and the first section covers the 1950s to 1973.

In 1963, Atherton-based Mr Horsfall wrote an anguished letter to the BEN in response to the trial asking: "Is there nobody in public life or in the church in your town with the guts to speak out against this cruel and senseless injustice?"

The book's writer, Peter Scott-Presland, said: "There were several prepared to speak out, among them the vicar of Deane, and Horsfall established personal contact.

"This group formed part of the nucleus for the North West Homosexual Law Reform Committee, which started in 1964, dedicated to changing the law against gay sex.

"It became the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) which, at its height, had 150 branches all over the country.

"It took until 2006 to achieve legal equality and 2014 to get gay marriage, but neither would have been possible without the groundwork of those little local groups in their communities."

Bolton Evening News.

Amiable Warriors, Volume One: A Space to Breathe, by Peter Scott-Presland. Available on Amazon or email

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