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Ian Campbell Dunn
(May 1, 1943 - March 10, 1998) Scotland

Ian Campbell Dunn

Gay rights campaigner


Born in Glasgow, he lived and worked all of his life in Scotland. He went to school at Hillhead High School. In his working life he was first a meterologist and then a town planner. His family were well-off middle class with links to shipping, steel, and engineering on his father's side, and property and manufacturing on his mother's side.

In the 1950s he was having a bad time while hearing about Montagu / Pitt-Rivers / Wildeblood and similar cases, but he was stung into action when the 1967 Sexual Offences Act did not apply in Scotland. On 29th. July 1967 he wrote to Antony Grey who was the director of the Albany Trust in London and secretary of the Homosexual Law Reform Society (HLRS). In September of that year they met at a coffee house in Shaftesbury Avenue. Ian Dunn wanted to set up a Scottish branch of the HLRS but Antony Grey was not interested because he had found the group set up in the North West of England by Allan Horsfall troublesome.

Ian Dunn found the address of the Mattachine Society in Donald West's, "Homosexuality" and he wrote to Frank Kameny, a gay activist in Washington D. C. Ian Dunn was inspired by the correspondence that they exchanged in 1968 and 1969. Ian Dunn also found contact with Allan Horsfall of the North-Western Homosexual Law Reform Committee useful.

In January 1969 Ian Dunn organised the first meeting which led to the foundation of the Scottish Minorities Group. It later became the Scottish Homosexual Rights Group, and then Outright Scotland. He worked for lesbian and gay rights both through gay groups but also through Edinburgh City Labour Party and through the local government union NALGO, later called UNISON. In January 1971 he help found SMG News, (later to be called Gay Scotland) and he was its editor for many years.

To find out how activism was organised elsewhere, he visited the United States and Canada in the summer of 1971, and then in 1974 he visited five northern European countries. At a conference in Edinburgh in 1974 he was involved the setting up of what was later to become the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). Also in 1974 he helped to establish the Edinburgh Gay and Lesbian Community Centre, which the first such centre in Britain.

He joined the Labour Party in 1977. Also in 1977 he became involved in the Edinburgh Books Collective. They opened a bookshop in the Old Town of Edinburgh called the First of May. It sold alternative left-wing political thought and lifestyle books for ten years until the mainstream book shops caught up. He was an active Humanist minister and celebrated ceremonies of affirmation for lesbian and gay couples.

Ian Campbell Dunn

His partner for several years was Ross Watt (here in the picture, with Ian in Spain). Ian Dunn died in Edinburgh, at the age of 54 with a suspected heart attack.


Source: The Knitting Circle, U.K. - http://www.sbu.ac.uk/stafflag/people.html

ScotsGay Magazine Ian Dunn website: http://www.scotsgay.co.uk/dunn/index.html

His work include:

  • Scotland: against the odds, in "Radical Records" (1988)
  • Making it Happen: The Making of the Lesbian and Gay Community in Scotland, in "Stonewall 25" (1994)
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