Obituary: Ian Dunn

Peter Tatchell
Saturday 21 March 1998 01:02 GMT

IAN DUNN was a pioneer for lesbian and gay human rights, remaining a central figure in the battle for homosexual equality - in Scotland and internationally - for 30 years.

In the 1970s he took a leading part in the campaign to end the total ban on gay sex in Scotland (the 1967 law reform applied only to England and Wales). With two other gay activists, he appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. This appeal forced the issue on to the public agenda, but was allowed to lapse when Robin Cook successfully amended the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980, extending the 1967 reforms north of the border.

Dunn was a co-founder in 1969 of the Scottish Minorities Group, one of Britain's earliest gay rights organisations. SMG held its inaugural meeting in the front room of his parents' home in Glasgow. At the time of his death, from a heart attack, Dunn was the convenor of its successor organisation, Outright Scotland. His most recent campaign was to amend the current Bill setting out the powers of the Scottish Parliament, to ensure that its equal opportunities remit included non-discrimination based on "sexual orientation and gender identity".

Born into a staunch Scottish Conservative and Unionist family in Glasgow, and educated at Hillhead High School, Dunn went on to become first a meteorologist, and later a town planner. But he soon rebelled against his respectable pedigree.

In 1974, he and Derek Ogg convened the International Gay Rights Congress in Edinburgh - the first post-war conference of homosexual emancipation movements from around the world. This congress led to the formation of the International Lesbian & Gay Association (Ilga). Now a global federation of 400 gay rights groups in 60 countries, Ilga has played a pivotal role in getting gay equality recognised as a human rights issue in international forums such as the United Nations and the Council of Europe.

Dunn also played an important role in launching Britain's first national gay newspaper, Gay News, in 1972, and was for many years editor of Gay Scotland magazine. He co-founded the Edinburgh Gay & Lesbian Community Centre in 1974, the oldest centre of its kind in Britain.

Ian Dunn was a long-time Labour Party and trade union activist (in Nalgo and Unison), who hoped to win selection as a Labour candidate for the Scottish Parliament. A planning officer with Edinburgh Council until he took early retirement, he was also a keen conservationist, helping save from demolition Mansfield Place Church in Edinburgh, with its magnificent murals by Phoebe Traquair Wilson.

Ian Campbell Dunn, campaigner: born Glasgow 1 May 1943; died Edinburgh 10 March 1998.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in