Linda Bellos

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Linda Bellos
Linda Bellos speaking at Croydon Area Gay Society
Bellos in 2010.
Linda Ann Adebowale

(1950-12-13) 13 December 1950 (age 70)
London, England
Alma materUniversity of Sussex
  • Politician
  • activist
Political partyLabour
Jonathan Bellos
(m. 1970; div. 1983)
Partner(s)Caroline Jones

Linda Ann Bellos OBE (born 13 December 1950)[1] is a British businesswoman, radical feminist and gay-rights activist. In 1981 she became the first black woman to join the Spare Rib collective. She was elected to Lambeth Borough Council in London in 1985 and was the leader of the council from 1986 to 1988.[2]

Early life[edit]

Bellos was born in London to a white Polish Jewish mother, Renee Sackman, and a black Nigerian father, Emmanuel Adebowale, who came from Uzebba and joined the merchant navy during the Second World War. Renee Sackman was disowned by her family for marrying an African Christian.[3] Raised in Brixton, Bellos was educated at Silverthorne Girls' Secondary Modern School, Dick Sheppard Comprehensive School, and the University of Sussex (1978–81).[4]



Bellos is a radical feminist and was the first non-white lesbian to join the Spare Rib feminist collective in 1981.[5] She criticises the movement's "point scoring" and the manner in which the women's movement was, in her view, dominated by white, middle-class women.[6] She rejects the term "mixed race" because she considers that every attempt to define race is reduced to definitions of skin colour. She uses the term "mixed heritage" instead. Bellos is a person of African and Eastern European Jewish heritage. She uses the inclusive political term of "Black" to describe herself.


She was vice-chair of the successful Labour Party Black Sections campaign to select African, Caribbean and Asian parliamentary and local candidates within the Labour Party.

In 1985 Bellos was elected as a Labour councillor to Lambeth London Borough Council and was leader of the council between 1986 and 1988. She was the second Black woman to become leader of a British local authority, after Merle Amory in the northwest London Borough of Brent. Bellos resigned as leader on 21 April 1988, after disputes within the Labour Party over the setting of the council budget. She was a prominent figure in left-wing politics in London in the 1980s and was labelled by The Sun as a member of the "Loony Left". Bellos attempted to become a parliamentary candidate, without success, most notably for Vauxhall, south London, in the Lambeth borough, where there was a by-election in 1989, following the resignation of Stuart Holland MP. Fellow Black Sections vice-chair Martha Osamor was chosen by the local party to be the prospective parliamentary candidate but she was rejected as too left-wing by Labour leader Neil Kinnock, who got Kate Hoey imposed by the national party.

Bellos was the treasurer of the Africa Reparations Movement (UK). She was co-chair of the Southwark LGBT Network[7] until February 2007 and an adviser to Southwark Council. From 2000 to 2003, she was co-chair of the LGBT Advisory Group to the Metropolitan Police.[7][8] She remains a community activist.


As a lesbian feminist, Bellos argued strongly in the early 1980s that an inclusive approach to women's issues must take account of social class, minority and majority ethnic identity, disability, sexual identity and religion. This approach was unpopular at the time. More recently, Bellos teaches employers and their staff to apply the Equality Act 2010, the Human Rights Act 1998 and other equality law. She notably originated Black History Month in the UK whilst chair of the London Strategic Policy Unit.[9]

Bellos has worked on mainstreaming equality within many public bodies, including the British Army and the Metropolitan Police Service. She was an Independent Advisor to the Metropolitan Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, and the Association of Chief Police Officers.[10]

She is a founder member and former Chair of The Institute of Equality and Diversity Practitioners.[11][12]


Bellos provides equality, diversity and human rights consultancy and training services to the UK's commercial, public and not-for-profit sectors. Her company is called Linda Bellos Associates.

Radio, TV, and writing[edit]

Bellos is a regular guest on radio and television programmes, contributing to discussions on many topics including equality, human rights and feminism.

As an author, she has contributed to a number of anthologies, including IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain.[13]

Personal life[edit]

In 1970 she married Jonathan Bellos, they had two children, in 1974 and 1976. She came out as a lesbian in 1980, and her marriage ended in divorce in 1983.[1][2] Linda left her children to live in an all-female commune.[14]

On 21 December 2005, Bellos and her partner, Caroline Jones, entered into a civil partnership in the UK.[15] She lives in Norwich, England.


On 9 December 2002, she was presented (together with Stephen Bourne) with the Metropolitan Police Volunteer Awards "in recognition of outstanding contribution in supporting the local community."

In 2006, she was awarded an OBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours for services to diversity.[7] She was reticent about receiving the award because she considers its association with a defunct Empire as outdated and the Honour should be renamed. She was encouraged to accept it by her family.[16][17]


  1. ^ a b "Bellos, Linda Ann - WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO". doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U245559. ISBN 978-0-19-954088-4.
  2. ^ a b Mason-John, Valerie (1995). Talking Black: Lesbians of African and Asian Descent Speak Out. Cassell. p. xv.
  3. ^ "In Conversation with Linda Bellos". NUS Connect. Retrieved 12 December 2020.
  4. ^ Linda Bellos: Education at LinkedIn.
  5. ^ Anthony, Andrew (15 February 2006). "Yes, we were bloody angry". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  6. ^ "Whatever happened to feminism's extreme sects?". The Independent. 12 February 2006.
  7. ^ a b c "LGBT History Month 2012 | UK | LGBT Heroes | Linda Bellos |". Polari Magazine. 5 February 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  8. ^ Woodward, Will (29 December 2006). "OBE to fighter for equality". Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  9. ^ Laughland, Oliver (30 September 2011). "The conversation: Why black history matters". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  10. ^ Woodward, Will (30 December 2006). "OBE to fighter for equality". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  11. ^ "Linda Bellos". linkedIn. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Angry Britain: why are we becoming so intolerant?". The Guardian. 6 December 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  13. ^ IC3 : the Penguin book of new black writing in Britain. Newland, Courttia., George, Kadija. London: Penguin. 2001. ISBN 0-14-028733-7. OCLC 47063413.CS1 maint: others (link)
  14. ^ Anthony, Andrew (15 February 2006). "Yes, we were bloody angry" – via
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 March 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "MBE for 80-year-old shoe shiner". BBC News. 30 December 2006. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  17. ^ Will Woodward (30 December 2006). "OBE to fighter for equality | Politics". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 30 September 2010.

External links[edit]