Axel Axgil Dies – Axel Axgil, whose struggle for gay rights helped make Denmark the first country to legalize same-sex partnerships, has died at the age of 96. He died in a hospital in Copenhagen on Saturday following complications from a fall, Danish gay rights group LGBT Danmark said.
Axel Lundahl-Madsen and Eigil Eskildsen inspired by the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights, together with several friends, founded F-48 or Forbundet af 1948 (The Association of 1948), Denmark’s first gay rights organization. By 1951, F-48’s membership had grown to 1,339 and there were branches in Sweden and Norway. In 1985, F-48 became the Danish National Association of Gays and Lesbians.
Axel and Eigil were among the first 11 gay couples to enter into a registered partnership anywhere in the world following Denmark’s legalisation of same-sex partnership registration in 1989, a landmark legislation which they were instrumental in bringing about. They adopted the shared surname, Axgil, a combination of their given names, as an expression of their commitment. Eigil Axgil died in 1995.
In the 1950s, both were sentenced on pornography charges to short prison terms for running a gay modeling agency that issued pictures of naked men. Alex Axgil, used the his surname in a public show of defiance.
Vivi Jelstrup, a spokeswoman for LGBA Danmark, said Axgil in many ways personified the struggle for gay rights in Denmark. “But Axel Axgil was a modest man who never cast himself as a lonely warrior,” Jelstrup said. “He always underscored that there were many involved in the work and that it was a common cause.”
Axgil, she said, had lived “a long life focused on creating something for other homosexuals, regardless of the price.”
LGBT Danmark said it would hold a memorial ceremony for Axgil at its next meeting on November 5 in the central Danish city of Aarhus.