Leo Abse, the former Welsh MP who steered through the 1967 legislation to partially decriminalise male homosexuality in England and Wales, has died at the age of 91. Most people think that the 1967 Sexual Offences Act was a piece of government sponsored legislation, but actually it was a private member’s Bill (although, like all private member’s Bills that make it into law, it was tacitly supported by the government of the day). Strangely enough, although the written BBC story talks about his wife and two children, the embedded video makes no mention of his personal life, although it does find quite a lot of time to dwell on his ‘flamboyant style of dress’, which would probably lead a lot of people to incorrectly assume he was gay.
In addition to his work in support of gay rights, Mr Abse was also a leading figure in parliamentary campaigns to liberalise divorce law, set up a national adoption and fostering system, abolish the death penalty, and legalise IVF treatment for infertile couples. In an interview he gave last year he said that his aim during his parliamentary career had been to ‘humanise and civilise our laws’.
You succeeded, sir, you succeeded.