Allan Horsfall obituary
My friend Allan Horsfall, who has died aged 84, was a gay activist and, as a member of the Homosexual Law Reform Society, helped to bring about the decriminalisation of male homosexual activity in 1967. The impact of that law reform had wide social consequences and Allan can be seen as one of the founders of both the gay movement and the gay community.
Born in the Lancashire village of Laneshaw Bridge, Allan was brought up by his grandparents whom he described as “god-fearing Conservatives and fervent upholders of law and order”. He met other gay men during three years in the RAF but rather than move to the anonymity of a city he returned to his home county to work for the National Coal Board. Small-town gay life was very secretive and when, after the publication of the Wolfenden Report in 1957, Allan became involved in the politics of law reform, several gay acquaintances warned him of the dangers of rocking the boat.
He became a member of the Labour party at the time of the Suez crisis and many members were of the view that homosexuality was not an issue for the working class. Allan became associated with the London-based Homosexual Law Reform Society in 1958 and was one of the founding members of the North West Committee for Homosexual Law Reform in 1964. In an act of enormous political bravery, he used his home address in the mining community of Atherton as the contact point for the organisation. He also took the controversial view that homosexual supporters should not have to conceal their sexuality for the sake of the cause of law reform.
After years of campaigning and public meetings, the law was changed and Allan and others set up the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE), much to the distaste of some of their parliamentary supporters. He eventually became president of CHE and, though he always remained politically active, his role in the removal of the stigma of criminality from homosexuality remained his crowning achievement.
In recent years, a younger generation became inspired by his story and he spoke about the travails of campaigning in the 1960s at events organised by groups such as LGBT History Month and Manchester Trades Council. In 2009 he was interviewed for the Millthorpe oral history project; the recording can be accessed at the Sound Archive of the British Library.
Allan’s partner, Harold Pollard, died in 1996.