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Retired UK lawmaker Leo Abse dies at 91

Retired UK lawmaker Leo Abse dies at 91

Leo Abse, a colorful Welsh politician who took a leading role in liberalizing laws on homosexuality and divorce, has died at age 91.
Abse died Tuesday in London, according to Leo Abse and Cohen, the Welsh law firm that he founded. The cause of death was not announced.
Noted for his dandyish apparel, Abse also won attention with books which attempted to apply psychoanalysis to Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.
"Fellatio, Masochism, Politics and Love," published in 2000, expounded his views of Clinton's fling with Monica Lewinski and also delved into Blair's political relationship with Gordon Brown, his successor as prime minister.
Exhibiting a knack for a long, catchy title, Abse wrote about Thatcher in "Margaret, daughter of Beatrice," in 1989, "Wotan, My Enemy: Can Britain Live With the Germans in the European Union?" in 1995 and "The Man Behind the Smile: Tony Blair and the Politics of Perversion" in 1997.
"Leo was courageous, highly principled, very funny and totally unique," former Labour leader Neil Kinnock and his wife Glenys said in a statement. "We are glad that he had such a long and fulfilling life in which he gained so much social progress by being an outstanding freethinking socialist."
Abse was a Labour Party member of Parliament from 1958 to 1987. He sponsored legislation in 1967 which decriminalized private sexual acts between adult men in England and Wales.
Peter Tatchell, a veteran gay rights activist in Britain, said that while homosexuals felt "huge relief" following Abse's reforms, the law still maintained some restrictions on gay sex _ such as a higher age of consent than faced by heterosexuals.
"It was not the liberation that many of us had wanted and expected," Thatchell said in a statement.
Abse also was active in passing the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act of 1984, which updated divorce laws, and the Children's Act of 1975, which reformed laws on adoption and fostering.
"I had two great advantages: I was born a Jew in Wales in the benign climate of Welsh nonconformity; we believed we had a covenant with God and God would look after us," Abse said in an interview this year with Intelligent Life magazine.
"Being in a minority within a minority, I had the benefit of being an outsider without feeling inferior. And I never went to university, which meant I wasn't groomed to conform."
Marjorie, his wife of 40 years, died in 1996. Four years later, Abse married Ania Czeputkowska, a former shipyard worker from Gdansk, Poland, who was 51 years younger.
He is survived by his wife, a son, a daughter and his brother, the poet Dannie Abse.


Updated : 2021-04-10 22:06 GMT+08:00