Ian McKellen receives Freedom of the City award for gay rights activism

The actor technically now has the right to trade in the square mile if he should so wish

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Sir Ian McKellen has added another achievement to his CV in the form of the Freedom of the City of London award, in celebration of his gay rights campaigning.

He was presented the award by Lord Mayor Fiona Woolf at London’s Guildhall yesterday.

The actor came out when he was 49 during a BBC radio interview and has fought for gay rights ever since. He is one of the founders of campaigning organisation Stonewall and has long supported Pride London.

McKellen is also patron of LGBT History Month, Gay-Glos, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation, The Albert Kennedy Trust and Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (FFLAG).

Historically, the Freedom of the City award, which dates back to 1237, originally gave someone the right not to be the property of a feudal lord and enjoy privileges such as the right to earn money and own land.


In the Middle Ages and Victoria era, it became the right to trade in the square mile.

Other high-profile recipients of the award include Judi Dench, Annie Lennox and Stephen Fry.

McKellen recently surprised the music world by appearing in George Ezra’s latest music video, “Listen To The Man”.