LGBT Humanists 45th Anniversary: volunteers on the front line

12 March, 2024

LGBT Humanists: 45 years strong. Magazines and photographs from the archive uncovered by Humanist Heritage

This year, LGBT Humanists celebrates a remarkable milestone – its 45th anniversary. For nearly half a century, its volunteers have been a driving force for LGBT rights, championing compassion, reason, and human rights across the country. But how did it all begin?

LGBT Humanists’ story begins in 1976. It was then that Mary Whitehouse, a teacher and social conservative, initiated a ‘blasphemous libel’ case against Gay News for publishing James Kirkup’s poem ‘The Love That Dares to Speak Its Name’. The poem, depicting the love of a Roman centurion for a crucified Jesus, led Whitehouse to decry an ‘intellectual, homosexual, and humanist lobby’. This lobby didn’t actually exist, but the idea certainly resonated with humanists. Inspired by this notion, LGBT Humanists was created in 1979.

The Gay Humanist Group became GALHA (Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association) in 1987. It later became LGBT Humanists in 2015

LGBT Humanists (then the Gay Humanists Group) officially launched at the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) Brighton Conference in August 1979. Initially, the group formed as activists opposing Mary Whitehouse and her lawsuit. Co-founders Barry Duke and Brian Parry envisioned a group that would challenge ‘ignorance, superstition, dogma, and bigotry, encouraging more gay humanists to confidently express their identities and beliefs’. Today, LGBT Humanists proudly continues this tradition.

Humanist Heritage project will explore the legacies of LGBT humanists like Alan Turing, Lorraine Hansberry, and Maureen Duffy

The history of LGBT Humanists is rich with interactions and collaborations with various groups, all striving towards a more tolerant society. LGBT Humanist campaigns have achieved so many significant victories: the end of section 28 in schools, the introduction of same-sex marriage in the UK, an end to blasphemy as a crime in England and Wales, the establishment of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia in the UK, and the ongoing fight against ‘conversion therapy‘.

LGBT Humanists on the march and campaigning for a more compassionate society circa 1979

Apply to be a LGBT Humanist Interviewee 💬

If you have ever marched under an LGBT Humanists banner, contributed to a newsletter, campaign, event, or humanist ceremony, email Humanists UK’s Heritage Project Officer Cas Bradbeer and introduce yourself. The Humanist Heritage project is recording the memories of anyone who has been part of LGBT humanism. These could range from recent events to recollections or the foundation of LGBT Humanists as the Gay Humanist Group in 1979!

Humanist Heritage: Doers, Dreamers, Place Makers

In celebration of the 45th anniversary of LGBT Humanists in 2024, the Humanist Heritage website is expanding to include even more LGBT history. This has been made possible by The National Lottery Heritage Fund project Humanist Heritage: Doers, Dreamers, Place Makers.


About Humanist Heritage 

In 2021, Humanists UK celebrated its 125th anniversary with a renewed focus on its history. The Humanist Heritage website is a rich web resource that uncovers the untold story of humanism in the UK – a story of people, groups, objects, places, movements, publications, and ideas. Since January 2023, Humanist Heritage has been funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Read more about the history of humanism in the UK on Humanist Heritage.

For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK’s Humanist Heritage Coordinator Madeleine Goodall at

About Humanists UK

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 120,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.