The Gay and Lesbian Humanism Association (GALHA) wishes to express its deep regret at the death of its friend and champion, Claire Rayner.
Claire’s long standing support both for Humanism and for gay equality is exemplified by her agreeing to serve as one of GALHA’s Vice Presidents for more than 20 years.
GALHA ex Chair Derek Lennard commented:
“Even when it was very difficult and controversial to do so, she spoke out on our behalf against the blasphemy laws, discriminatory employment laws and in support of same sex marriage.”
Expressing her opposition Section 28 in 1993 Claire told the then Education Minister that “It is not morally acceptable to treat homosexuals as some sort of inferior beings. just because of religious or any other considerations”.
Some 40 years ago she told a meeting of hesitant gay campaigners:
“There’s nothing wrong with you, but there’s a lot wrong with the way society and politicians treat you. Just by being here tonight, proves that you’ve had enough and intend to organise, be visible, win friends and change the world you’re living in”.
Even in the last weeks of her life when she was already very ill Claire was voicing her strong support for the wave of opposition to the policies and positions of Pope Benedict during his recent visit to the UK, a campaign which GALHA also championed.
Claire also earlier played a critical role in advancing gay rights as one of a generation of “Agony Aunts” who saw gay people as normal human beings with hopes, needs, loves and problems much like the rest of the population. This was enormously helpful in fighting discrimination and in combating the irrational – and often religiously based – prejudices that blighted the lives of so many gay men and women, as they still do today in many societies.
GALHA Secretary Mike Rickwood commented:
“Claire’s great courage, warmth, passion, and concern for humanity and for fighting cruelty, bigotry and injustice wherever she found it, without fear or favour to anyone, exemplify all that is best in Humanism, and we are proud and honoured to have been associated with her, and to have had her as a Vice President. We would like to extend our sympathy to her family and to her many friends and admirers. We can all be thankful for a life lived to the full.”