News that Jeff Dudgeon has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List for services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community in Northern Ireland is extremely positive, significant and symbolic.
I feel a great sense of joy that Jeff will soon become a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). Whilst long overdue it’s a perfect end to 2011. Jeff will now be honoured by the state after previously facing criminalisation simply due to his sexual orientation.
Jeff courageously and successfully brought a case to European Court of Human Rights in 1981 and achieved decriminalisation of male homosexuality in Northern Ireland. Until the UK Government changed the law in 1982 (following Jeff’s successful case) gay men in Northern Ireland faced arrest, prosecution and imprisonment.