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Image result for Allan HorsfallAllan Horsfall (20 October 1927–27 August 2012) was a British gay rights campaigner and founder of the North West Committee for Homosexual Law Reform, which became the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.[1] In Horsfall's entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Peter Tatchell described him as "one of the grandfathers of the gay rights movement in Britain" and "one of the truly great pioneers of LGBT equality in Britain".[2]

Horsfall was born in Laneshaw Bridge, Lancashire. His father Tom Horsfall ran a public house. He was raised by grandparents in the Yorkshire Moors. He described his grandparents as "god-fearing Conservatives and fervent upholders of law and order". He was educated at Nelson Grammar School and then did three years national service in the Royal Air Force. He worked as a clerk for the National Coal Board from 1959 to 1971 and then for Salford Education Committee.

In 1956, following the Suez Crisis, he joined the Labour Party and became a councillor in Nelson, Lancashire. He was also involved with the North-East Lancashire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and was a founder of the National Federation of Bus Users.

In 1958, he started campaigning for the Homosexual Law Reform Society to implement the findings of the Wolfenden Report published in 1957.[3]

In 1964, Horsfall became one of the founders of the North West Committee for Homosexual Law Reform. The Sexual Offences Act 1967 began the decriminalisation of homosexuality. In 1971, the North West Committee became the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE). In comparison to the radical Gay Liberation Front which had formed in 1970, CHE was a much more respectable and middle class campaigning group.[4] Horsfall ran CHE from 1971 to 1974 and then became president for life.[3]

During the 1970s, Horsfall attempted to set up 'Esquire Clubs', co-owned social clubs built on the model of working men's clubs for lesbians and gay men. On 30th July 1971 Allan was part of a CHE public meeting in Burnley Central Library, called "Homosexuals & Civil Liberties". The meeting was attended by members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) from London, and although it did not succeed in getting a club opened, it did prompt a mass coming-out, the first of its kind in the North of England, and Horsfall described it as the most successful meeting that CHE ever had.[5] Several other attempts were made to secure premises in the North West, before and after this, but were not successful.[3]

Horsfall has spoken about the his 1960s campaigning at LGBT History Month events, and he was interviewed for the Millthorpe oral history project.[1] He continued to campaign into the 1990s, joining the defence of the Bolton 7 for participating in homosexual group sex, and their successful case brought to the European Court of Human Rights.

He met his partner Harold Pollard (1908-1996) at an ex-Serviceman's Club in 1947. Pollard was a primary school teacher and later a headteacher who was chairman of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. The two lived together, mostly in Bolton, until Pollard's death. Horsfall died in Bolton.[3]

Allan Horsfall is the lead character in "The Burnley Buggers' Ball", a play by Stephen M Hornby. The play was commissioned by LGBT History Month to mark the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act and was performed at the original site of the 1971 CHE meeting "Homosexuals & Civil Liberties" in Burnley Central Library.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/queerplaces/images/Allan_Horsfall