Right-to-die campaigner and humanist Gordon Ross dies aged 67

January 13, 2016

HSS regretfully informs our members and supporters that former Treasurer and prominent right-to-die campaigner Gordon Ross has died today at the age of 67.

Gordon Ross suffered from a number of health problems, and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease back in 2005. Gordon was admitted to hospital two weeks ago with pneumonia and died as a result of that, and his other medical issues, in hospital in Glasgow around midnight surrounded by his family.

Gordon has long been a campaigner for the right-to-die, supporting the recent Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill.

Gordon played an important part in the development of Humanist Society Scotland in several roles, serving as Treasurer during the crucial period of incorporation in 2010 (during which HSS changed from being a charity to a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation), an HSS Registered Celebrant and also National Ceremonies Officer (the most senior elected position for HSS Registered Celebrants).

Following the defeat of the Bill on 27th May 2015, Gordon Ross unsuccessfully tried to launch a Judicial Review calling for the Lord Advocate to bring forward prosecution guidance to provide greater clarity of what charges might be brought an individual who assists someone who is terminally ill and unable to take their own life to commit suicide. In December 2015 Gordon launched an appeal at the Court of Session to overturn this decision.

Reacting to the news former Chairperson of HSS (2010-2012), and close friend of Gordon’s, Leslie Mitchell said:

“Gordon Ross played a crucial role in the development of HSS, considerably more than his role as Treasurer would suggest. He helped to grow the Society from a small group of like-minded individuals into the large professional campaigning organisation we are today.

Mr Mitchell continued,

“Gordon was an incredibly kind and generous man, always ready to stand-up for the rights of others, and modest about his own significant achievements. Gordon was motivated by his desire to promote a rational, ethical and secular Scotland. He remained active and engaged throughout his illness, and played a key role in Scotland’s national debate around assisted suicide.

I was proud to call Gordon a friend, and will miss him immensely.”

HSS Chief Executive Gordon MacRae said:

“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Gordon’s death. Our thoughts are with his family and close friends at this difficult time.

“Towards the end of his life, Gordon faced significant challenges with his health, despite this he resolved to play a significant part in the public debate in Scotland around the right-to-die.

“Gordon made a significant contribution to Humanist Society Scotland, and he will be sadly missed by our members. HSS will pay tribute to Gordon in the best way that we can; by continuing his fight for both clarity in the current law, and eventual reform of the law to allow people who wish it the right to die with compassion and dignity.”

HSS understands that Mr Ross has opted to donate his brain to Parkinson’s disease research. Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.

For more information or comment, please contact Gary McLelland on 07813060713 or gary@humanism.scot

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