The iconic LGBT flag will be flying over Islington Town Hall once again this February to mark LGBT History Month.
Islington has a proud LGBT history, where it played host to the UK’s first gay rights demonstration on Highbury Fields in 1970.
LGBT History Month 2017 has particular significance, as it marks the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act, which decriminalised homosexual acts between two men over 21 years and in private.
To mark the start of LGBT History month, a rare artwork purchased through the generosity of anonymous donors and an Art Fund Grant went on display for the first time at Islington Museum.
‘World of Cats’, a five-and-a-half foot, four panel screen decorated with a collage of cats, was created in 1966 by artist Kenneth Halliwell. Halliwell lived with his playwright partner, Joe Orton, between 1959 and 1967 in Noel Road, Islington.
Halliwell and Orton notoriously stole books from Islington libraries then defaced and returned them in the 1960s. Eventually they were caught and imprisoned for sixth months and it is thought their sentence was in part so harsh because of their then-illegal homosexual relationship. In 1967, Halliwell killed Orton before committing suicide.
The defaced book jackets are kept permanently in Islington Museum, along with ‘World of Cats’ until 13th March 2017.
Cllr Aysegul Erdon, Equalities Champion, said: “Islington’s LGBT community contributes so much to our borough. Without them, we would not be the diverse and eclectic society we are today.
“It is fantastic that ‘World of Cats’ has been returned to its home in Islington. It is a valuable piece of our borough’s cultural history and I encourage everyone to see it while it is on display.”
Pictured - Islington Labour councillors fly the LGBT flag at Islington Town Hall