Danish gay rights pioneer Axel Axgil dies, aged 96

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Axel Axgil, who helped push Denmark to become the first country to introduce same-sex unions, has died at the age of 96.

Mr Axgil and his partner, Eigil Axgil were the first Danes to enter into a civil union in 1989 and in so doing became the first gay couple to enter into a registered union anywhere in the world.

Born Axel Lundahl-Madsen and Eigil Eskildsen, the couple fought to introduce legislation for gay civil unions and were the first among eleven couples to tie the knot on 1 October 1989.

They formed the surname Axgil from their Christian names.

The couple co-founded Forbundet af 1948, The Association of 1948, following the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

It became a pan-Scandinavian gay rights movement and, as each country developed its campaigning, returned to Denmark, eventually becoming LGBT Danmark, one of the oldest surviving gay rights organisations in the world.

Eigil Axgil died on 22 September 1995 at the age of 73.

LGBT Danmark spokeswoman Vivi Jelstrup said in a statement: “You have to be impressed by the colossal enthusiasm Axel Axgil has shown throughout his entire life for helping other homosexuals. Regardless of how hard they were hit themselves, he and Eigil tirelessly worked on.”

Axgil, she said, had lived “a long life focused on creating something for other homosexuals, regardless of the price.”

Mr Axgil died on Saturday. LGBT Danmark will hold a memorial ceremony for Axgil on November 5 in the central Danish city of Aarhus.