Denmark: Bid to rename square after late gay rights activist fails

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A bid to rename a square in Copenhagen after the deceased founder of one of the world’s first gay rights groups, has failed, with city officials citing a 50-year-old pornography scandal as one of its reasons.

The newly renovated square, adjacent to the City Hall, was to be renamed after Axel Axgil, who died aged 96 in 2011, and who founded one of the first gay rights groups in Denmark in 1948.

Deputy mayor Ayfer Baykal, who is the head of the government body responsible for renaming streets, cited charges made against the late gay rights activist, around child abuse, back in 1955, for which he was sentenced, but continually denied, as well as a lack of political support for the renaming.

“I was still ready to name a square after Axel Axgil, as I didn’t believe that there was substance in the many allegations levelled at him,” said Baykal, speaking to Politiken newspaper. “But we were too unprepared in this case, regrettably.”

As part of his legacy and the struggle for LGBT rights, Axgil also encouraged the exposure of Danish Nazi war criminal, SS Dr Carl Vaernet, who experimented on gay prisoners as Buchenwald.

He and his partner Eigil, were the first gay couple in the world to receive marriage-like legal recognition, under Denmark’s registered partnership law, back in 1996.