Ian McKellen gets honorary doctorate, thanks gay groups

Sir, or Dr. Ian McKellen in 2009.
(Jennifer S. Altman / For the Los Angeles Times)
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Ian McKellen received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland on Sunday.

So you can call the famed stage and film actor Dr. McKellen now, though his “Sir” prefix is awfully nice as well.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” actor was given the Doctor of Letters degree by the university’s chancellor, Dr. James Nesbitt, who appeared in the film as Bofur alongside McKellan’s wizard, Gandalf.


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“Thanks to every gay person in public and non-public life who has come out,” McKellen, who is openly gay, said in his speech, which addressed religious and homophobic prejudice. “Thanks to those politicians not in thrall to those constituents who cling to the status quo and who, given referenda, would happily reinstate capital punishment and the beating of children.”

Britain’s House of Commons is preparing to vote on same-sex legislation Tuesday, and McKellen, 73, used his moment at the lectern for an oration on politics.

“Thanks most perhaps to the cherished national belief that an Englishman — and an Irishman’s — home is his castle and that the state has no business interfering in their bedrooms,” he added. “Every rotten anti-gay law has been repealed, shaken down from the constitutional tree. So complete is the reversal that we even have the anomaly of civil partnerships which are not available to heterosexuals and uniquely benefit the gays!”

The legislation is meant to give gay couples the same tax benefits as heterosexual couples.

“The heavens have not fallen in — though some blame tsunami and earthquakes, even 9/11, on God’s response to advances in gay freedom,” he added. “The world, at least this part of it, is a better place. Beyond these isles things are worse than ever.”



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