Ian McKellen delivers powerful gay rights lecture

Actor awarded honorary degree by the University of Ulster and speaks about the achievements of the gay rights movement in Britain to an invited audience

Ian McKellen delivers powerful gay rights lecture
04 February 2013

Wizardly actor and dedicated gay rights campaigner Ian McKellen was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Ulster yesterday. He was asked to deliver a lecture to an invited audience to mark the occasion, and he spoke about the achievements of the gay rights movement in Britain.

‘Thanks to every gay person in public and non-public life who has come out,’ McKellen said, BBC News reports.

‘Every rotten anti-gay law has been repealed, shaken down from the constitutional tree. So complete is the reversal, that we even have the anomaly of civil partnerships which are not available to heterosexuals and uniquely benefit the gays!’

McKellen spoke about being knighted by the Queen in 1991. He said he felt the honor was ‘a tiny suggestion that the political establishment was giving in to the idea that gay men could, despite the laws that disadvantaged us, be honorable and responsible citizens’.

The University’s vice chancellor Professor Richard Barnett introduced McKellen by describing him as ‘a man of deep personal conscience’ and ‘a voice of liberty’.

Actor James Nesbit, who starred with McKellen in The Hobbit, is chancellor of the University of Ulster and was at the ceremony as well.

‘We were sitting on a mountain in middle earth about six months ago and he [Nesbit] was proudly telling me he was chancellor of a university,’ said McKellen.

‘I didn’t quite believe him, but he said "oh come on, you come over and I’ll show you", so here I am and delighted to be here for the first time.’ 

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

James Arthur’s hopes of comeback dashed over his anti-gay past

X Factor winner will not be on Professor Green's forthcoming album
No thumbnail available

Where the water glows in Thailand

Leave the sex tourism and moon parties behind for night-dives and jungle raves in Koh Lanta, an untarnished beach paradise where the ocean teems with whale sharks, manta rays and bioluminescent algae
No thumbnail available

The undercover life of a proud gay man in Tibet

Lesbian couple Katie Cook and Maggie Young are traveling the world meeting LGBT people. Here they meet Jetsan in Lhasa, Tibet, who has found he is not alone
No thumbnail available

Groups demand priest ‘sex acts’ Cardinal says sorry for gay hate

Gay rights group demand that Cardinal Keith O'Brien apologizes for his anti-gay stance. Suggestions he may need therapy
No thumbnail available

Family of first Ugandan couple to be legally wed in Sweden harassed

The family of a Ugandan gay man married in Sweden in what is believed to be the first legal union between two same-sex Ugandans has been harassed after the news was published back home
No thumbnail available

Perez Hilton becomes father for the second time

Gay gossip columnist shares picture of his new baby
No thumbnail available

Padmini Prakash becomes first transgender news anchor in India history

Her hiring comes come five months after India's Supreme Court recognized transgender people as a legal third gender
No thumbnail available

India ‘goes gay for a day’ to protest gay sex ban

Thousands of Indians, both straight and gay alike, have changed their profile to a picture of them kissing someone of the same gender
No thumbnail available

California man arrested in slaying of trans woman

Police are not treating the murder as a hate crime
No thumbnail available

Son of lesbian moms in Ireland answers questions about his upbringing

The man opened up about his life on an online forum ahead of proposed legislative changes in Ireland around gay adoption and the country's planned marriage equality referendum