Council considering lesbian compromise for city square name

The proposal to name the prominent location after an actress who came out late in her life has received widespread backing from the LGBT community and city councillors

As part of City Hall's continued efforts to name a new square on Vester Voldgade road after someone from the LGBT community, city lawmakers have now set their sights on the lesbian actress Hannah Bjarnhof.

During its meeting yesterday, the City Council discussed the naming of the square adjacent to City Hall and the consensus was to honour the actress who came out as a lesbian at a late age.

City councillors last week dropped plans to name the square after Axel Axgil, a deceased gay rights activist who, together with his partner, in 1989 became the world's first homosexual couple to enter into a registered partnership. Councillors were concerned that allegations of child pornography against Axgil made him an unsuitable choice.

The LGBT community itself submitted the compromise proposal, which has garnered widespread political support.

“Hannah Bjarnhof was widely known for her artistic contributions while being lesbian, so we can continue to stick by our decision to name the square by Vester Voldgade after a person connected to the LGBT community,” Morten Kabell, an Enhedslisten councillor who is a member of the city body responsible for naming streets, told Politiken newspaper.

Bjarnhof was born in 1928 and graduated from the royal acting school Det Kongelige Teaters Eleveskole in 1948. She then worked at Odense Theatre and in the Copenhagen cabaret scene but is mostly known for her rousing monologues – particularly 'Børnefødselsdagen’, which was a hit for many years on the Giro 143 radio program on P3 and P4.

Bjarnhof was awarded the Lesbisk Jubelpris in 1999 for her contributions to the LGBT community before passing away in 2002.

Deputy mayor Ayfer Baykal (Socialistisk Folkeparti) was pleased about naming the square after Bjarnhof.

“That the square could be named after a woman is only a plus in my opinion, as the city street names are dominated by male names,” Baykal told the Ritzau news bureau. “Hannah Bjarnhof came out as a lesbian at a late age and the choice helps underline the development of the unique Copenhagen free-mindedness.”

The proposal will now be sent to a four-week hearing to the people who live on square as well as the neighbourhood council, which means a final decision won’t be made until after the City Council's summer break.