Griffith Vaughan Williams: Champion of gay rights who fought institutional homophobia

Griffith Vaughan Williams was a passionate advocate for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people. He was described by the historian Keith Howes as "passionately, noisily committed to gay rights but never pompous or elitist; always politely eloquent, even at his most bombastic. His was a powerful gay voice, devoted to truth and equality." Determined to uncover and expose the extent of violence against homosexuals, he worked often with the police and his robust, in-your-face, thorough questioning of police practices led to much improved relations between the Metropolitan police and the gay community.

Griff, as his friends knew him, was born in Bangor, North Wales in 1940 and educated at a local grammar school. In Cardiff he trained as a journalist and worked for a number of magazines and provincial newspapers around the country, and in the press office at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. He then became a freelance journalist.

Griff's involvement in gay rights work began in 1964, three yearsbefore the Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalised sexual acts between men, and he was a leading memberof the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) from its earliest days. In 1974 Griff (above) was one of the members who agreed to consult on and participate in London Weekend Television's pioneering documentary about homosexual equality called Speak for Yourself.

In 1980, Griff contributed to the research that led to CHE's publication of Attacks on Gay People by Julian Meldrum. This modest but ground-breaking pamphlet helped to expose an alarmingly high number of cases of homophobic violence and abuse in Britain, some of them perpetrated by police officers. Griff was one a of a small group of lesbian and gay activists who approached the Metropolitan Police in the early 1990s with the purpose of working in partnership with them on policing operations and methods which impacted primarily on gay men. The London Lesbian and Gay Police Initiative (LLGPI) met regularly with the Met throughout the 1990s.

In June 1999 Griff was one of a group of LGBT representatives called into New Scotland Yard for emergency meetings in the aftermath of the Admiral Duncan pub bombing. With others he advised the Met on the impact of the bombing on the LGBT community in London while the perpetrator, David Copeland, was still at large. Following the bombing in Soho, the Met decided it needed to extend its links with the LGBT communities with the formation of the LGBT Advisory Group.

Griff was one of the original members of the LGBT Advisory Group and continued to be an active member until two weeks before his death. He was particularly involved with critical incidents, mainly murders. In 2007 the LGBT Advisory Group claimed in a report that police detectives investigating murders of and violent crimes against gay men were influenced by institutional homophobia. Their LGBT Murder Review exposed the many investigations between 1990 and 2002 that were marred by lack of knowledge, reliance on gay stereotypes, and prejudice by the police.

The 22 recommendations for improvement were implemented by the Met. Following the publication of the report, the Met awarded Commendations to Griff and his colleagues.

Bob Hodgson, the co-chair of the Met's LGBT Advisory Group, remembers Griff as "a character, and a gay activist who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of LGBT issues and details of past and current cases. He scoured local papers and visited coroner's courts to discover pieces of information on LGBT cases which had been overlooked or badly investigated.

He was well known at many LGBT forums across London. To Chairs like myself he could be challenging in the extreme. If he thought an issue had been brushed aside he would persist with specific questions until satisfied with the answer.

He was also a stickler for meeting protocols and doggedly refused to embrace electronic communication technology. At the ends of meetings his lists of items under 'any other business' were legendary but he delivered them with good humour and a characteristic twinkle in his eye."

Griffith Vaughan Williams, journalist and gay activist: born Bangor, North Wales 9 November 1940; died London 15 November 2010.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
News
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
peopleFilm star says he is 'not interested in making money anymore'
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
News
news
News
peopleCampaign 'to help protect young people across the world'
Life and Style
tech

News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Research Fellow in Water and Resilient communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: Our team of leading academic...

Nursery Nurse

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: Nursery Nurse Leeds November start...

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker