CHE's Memorandum of Wishes for CHERT
The following document was originated by Michael Steed, Chair of the CHE Transition Team, and is to be handed over to CHERT at the CHE/CHERT Conference on 15 October 2022.
The objects of CHERT (the CHE Research Trust) are defined in its constitution:
- To advance education for the public benefit about the history of the struggle for LGBT+ rights, including but not limited to the origins and history of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and by contributing to the safe preservation of LGBT+ archives.
- To promote equality and diversity by encouraging a deeper understanding of the causes and progress of changes in public acceptance of LGBT+ rights
The following is intended to record CHE's vision as to how those objectives should be carried out, and is offered for discussion pending the final CHE Conference, when it will be adopted, with such amendments as may be agreed and voted on, as the agreed view of the members of CHE. At that point CHE's funds will be transferred to CHERT, but this statement from CHE will, we hope, remain to guide and inspire the CHERT Trustees.
The Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) played a critical role in the history of the struggle for LGBT+ rights in the United Kingdom during the latter third of the twentieth century.
In 2010 CHE agreed that the priority use of its funds would be to ensure the researching, writing up and publication of a history of CHE. This has been partially achieved with publication of the first volume, by Peter Scott-Presland, of Amiable Warriors; a significant part of the second volume is now in draft.
CHE's intention, in transferring its funds to CHERT, is that they will be used first to ensure the completion of the Amiable Warriors project, and the continued research, writing and publication of the history and achievements of CHE.
The work of CHERT should be:
- monitored by the Board of Trustees on a quarterly basis
- documented in an annual report to CHERT's Associate Members and potential partners.
Scope of research
The Trustees are free, within the charitable objects, to judge how far CHE’s own history is best studied, and CHE’s legacy celebrated, within a broader context.
No precise time period is set by the Trust’s charitable objects, but the focus is likely to be on the critical period between the Wolfenden report (1957) and the abolition of Section 28 (2003), a period which saw major developments in social practice and social attitudes relating to sexual orientation.
The reference in the charitable objects to CHE’s origins points to CHE’s development out of the North Western Homosexual Law Reform Committee (founded 1964) and to the important differences between NWHLC/CHE and other groups working in the same field. NWHLC/CHE was from the start a bottom-up, member-based movement rather than a corridors-of-power, metropolitan reform body. Further research could usefully explore the significance of this character and the impact it made on the lives of its members.
Similarly, no geographical limit is set by the Trust’s charitable objects. CHE operated across the whole of England and Wales, whilst having close relations with sister movements in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Its origins included the inspiration of groups such as COC (Amsterdam). Its achievements included the setting up of the International Gay Association (now ILGA World) at Coventry in 1978.
CHERT could usefully work in partnership with other trusts, university departments, museums or other relevant organisations, to:
- promote research
- publish, publicise
and disseminate the fruits of such research via educational programmes,
embracing such activities as:
- seminars, workshops and lectures
- publication in books, journals or online.
CHERT may wish to:
- appoint advisers with respected knowledge of LGBT+ history who can work with researchers to provide them with support and feedback
- involve senior CHE veterans for their respected memories of times past.
CHERT may wish to support other research projects leading to publication or to programmes which extend or deepen understanding of LGBT+ history.
CHERT may seek and receive additional funds, whether through bequests and personal donations or grants from other bodies. The extent of such funds will guide trustees in planning CHERT’s future and what further contribution it can make to the ongoing project of understanding the history and significance of the LGBT+ community in both this country and the wider world.
The trustees will have a particular responsibility for the safe preservation of CHE’s archives and for ensuring access to them, within the need to preserve safely and ensure access to all LGBT+ Archives.
We hope that CHERT will find ways of celebrating the history and legacy of CHE. There are significant anniversaries which could be commemorated, such as CHE’s first national conference in Morecambe (Easter 1973). These could be occasions when CHE veterans gather to exchange memories – and also to be more available for researchers to meet them and gather oral evidence. A regular annual reunion could also be considered. Since CHERT itself may have limited administrative capacity to organise events, which might also be considered to fall outside its charitable objects, we suggest seeking suitable local partners as appropriate.
We hope that through such celebrations, and in other ways, CHERT will be able to establish and embed the highly significant role in history played by CHE, as one of the most significant organisations supporting the rights and equality of LGBT+ people. Alongside its campaigning role, CHE provided an invaluable support and welfare function to LGBT people (mostly gay men and women); and this must certainly be included in any full appreciation of CHE’s place in LGBT+ history.