The last half of the world’s first registered gay couple, Axel Axgil, died Saturday morning at age 96.
Axel was born Axel Lundahl-Madsen, but he and his partner Eigil Eskildsen adopted the shared surname Axgil. They chose this combination of their given names as an expression of their commitment after they met in the 1940s.
They were the first gay couple to enter into a registered partnership anywhere in the world following Denmark’s legalization of same-sex partnership registration in 1989, a landmark legislation which they were instrumental in bringing about. Denmark is expected to move to marriage equality next year.
Inspired by the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights, together with several friends, they 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. The couple launched a magazine, Vennen (The Friend).
In 1985, F-48 became the Danish National Association of Gays and Lesbians (Landsforeningen for BÝsser og Lesbiske, Forbundet af 1948 or LBL).
Axel’s sexuality gave him problems in the home town of Aalborg, where he was expelled from membership of the Justice Foundation, lost his job and was banished from the boarding house where he lived and ate, says journalist Bjarne Henry Lundis who has written a book about Axgil.
Said vicar Ivan Larsen, who married the couple:
“Police then would hunt for gay men and also they hit the couple, they both saw their businesses destroyed.”
“Later they started boarding at the Hotel Axelhuus at Ringsted, Copenhagen – refuge for many gay people especially from Germany, Sweden and Norway.”
On October 1, 1989, the Axgils and 10 other Danish gay couples were married by Tom Ahlberg, the deputy mayor of Copenhagen, in the city hall, accompanied by worldwide media attention and cheering crowds.
Eigil Axgil died in 1995, while Axel Axgil continued his active work for gay people into the 2000s.
Picture of Axel and Eigil in 1940s Wikipedia