As the fight for gay marriage gets stronger all around the world, let’s pause to remember the first person in the world ever to have a gay relationship legally recognised: died this weekend aged 96 having survived his partner Egil for 16 years.
It was in October 1989 that Denmark introduced same-sex “registered partnerships”, as they are still called today. Axil and Egil were the very first couple in line at Copenhagen City Hall – Axil having been co-founder of the organisation today known as LGBT Denmark back in 1948 – 21 years before Stonewall. Media from all corners of the globe crammed into City Hall Square – which they did again in July 2009 when the square hosted another milestone in our history – the opening ceremony of the 2nd worldOutgames in July 2009.
Axil was not only feted at the opening ceremony then – he was a star ambassador in the runup to the event. And his speech to the human rights conference received a four-minute standing ovation.
Unfortunately, Axel did not live to see Denmark implement the final act of equality: despite several attempts, conservative politicians have managed to fight off every attempt to rename “registered partnerships” as proper marriage. No longer though, as the recently elected centre-left government plans to introduce legislation early in the new year, with the Equality Minister himself promising to turn up and throw rice for the first couple. There will no doubt be an empty chair at the reception for Axel.