Early defense of gay rights discovered on dusty parchment

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A passionate defense of gay rights written more than two centuries before homosexuality became legal has been discovered.

Homosexuality was illegal in Britain until 1967, but a University of Manchester academic has unearthed a scroll written by a pioneering gay activist that dates back to the 18th century.

The handwritten parchment indicting the printer of Thomas Cannon’s 1749 book, Ancient And Modern Pederasty Investigated And Exemplified, was found at the National Archive in Kew. Dr Hal Gladfelder stumbled across the dusty scroll, which contains extracts from the book, while doing research.

The book, which was suppressed immediately after its publication, appears to be an anthology of stories and philosophical texts in defense of male homosexuality.

The printer had to flee to continental Europe to avoid punishment and no copies of the book itself survive.

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