Pioneering Gay Rights Activist Peter Bonsall-Boone Has Passed Away

Bon and his partner of five decades were never able to marry.

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Veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Bonsall-Boone has passed away aged 78 after a long battle with cancer.

Bonsall-Boone and his partner Peter de Waal, with whom he shared his life for more than 50 years, were at the forefront of the gay rights movement in Australia since the 1970s. They were founding members of the Campaign Against Moral Persecution (CAMP) and spent years fighting to have homosexuality removed from the Crimes Act.

They also became the first men to share a kiss on Australian television after they appeared on ABC TV’s Chequerboard in 1972. As a result of the program, Bonsall-Boone was fired from his job as a secretary at a church on Sydney’s North Shore.

In recent years the pair lent their voices to the marriage equality campaign. Following Bonsall-Boone’s cancer diagnosis they wrote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urging him to support changes to the law. “You can make our wish come true,” read their letter. “But please do it quickly as Bon’s time is fast running out!”

Last month they starred in a video calling for marriage equality. “We’ve been second class citizens for all of the 50 years we’ve been together,” said de Waal. “It would be absolutely wonderful if we could say one day, we are equal.”

“I am going to miss him like crazy,” added Bonsall-Boone. “Marriage for Peter and me would be a great fulfillment of many years of association and love, and then I will know that we are officially a part of each other.”

Australian Marriage Equality shared the news of Bonsall-Boone’s passing on Facebook yesterday afternoon. “It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we need to let the community know the wonderful Bon, Peter Bonsall-Boone, has died at home,” they wrote. “He is survived by his loving partner of 50 years, Peter de Waal. Together they were life-long advocates and proud campaigners for LGBTI rights.”

“Sadly they were never married. Vale Bon.”

Feature image via Australian Marriage Equality/Facebook