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Ian McKellen outside 10 Downing Street

Our history

Stonewall was formally launched one year to the day since Section 28 became law.

This piece of legislation effectively prevented teachers from talking about same-sex relationships in schools, forcing teachers back into the closet, or out of their job, and scarred a generation of LGBT people.

On 11 September 1988, at a meeting held in Sir Ian McKellen’s house in Limehouse, the basic aims were drawn up in a document dubbed the Second Limehouse Declaration. The first Limehouse Declaration, announcing the launch of the Social Democrat Party, had been signed in the house next door.

On 24 May 1989, the new group sent a press release to the LGBT press announcing the founding of the Stonewall Group. It was set up as a company and a charity, the Iris Trust, was announced at the same time, with a remit to raise funds for research and to support the work of the Stonewall Group.

An announcement to the mainstream press followed in September. The Iris Trust’s first fundraising event was a performance of Bent at the Adelphi Theatre in London, starring Sir Ian McKellen and Lord Michael Cashman. The performance raised £25,000 and this became the seed money for the Stonewall Group’s first office at 5 Rector Street, London N1. In August 1989, Tim Barnett was announced as the first executive director.

The founding members and/or trustees were: Peter Ashman, Deborah Ballard, Michael Cashman, Duncan Campbell, Olivette Cole-Wilson, Fiona Cunningham Reid, Simon Fanshawe, Dorian Jabri, Ian McKellen, Matthew Paris, Lisa Power, Dr Peter Rivas, Pam St Clement and Jennie Wilson.

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