Two philanthropists in America have donated over $1m to UCLA to establish an academic chair dedicated to sexual orientation law and public policy.

The chair, at the prestigious university’s law school, is thought to be the first of its kind in the world.

John McDonald and Rob Wright donated the money to endow the position. The pair have an impressive track record of support for numerous LGBT and HIV organisations.

Notable among them is the Los Angeles Gay Lesbian Centre, where a building bears the couple’s name.

The chair will be endowed through the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law Public Policy.

Wright and McDonald were already major donors at Williams, funding the Judicial Education Program for four years.

“Winning equality is never quick or easy,” said Mr McDonald.

“The Williams Institute at UCLA is leading the way in well-reasoned research and education about sexual orientation and the law.”

“By endowing a chair for this very important mission, our contribution will help turn societal wrongs into civil and human rights,” continued Wright.

The McDonald/Wright Chair of Law will be held by a member of the faculty of UCLA Law and the Williams Institute who has distinguished herself or himself in research into to sexual orientation law and public policy.

Ever since the first endowed chair was established 500 years ago at Oxford University, privately funded “chairs” have been essential tools for building universities and encouraging research and scholarship in specific academic fields.

Historically, endowed chairs have been used to focus the talents of the best and the brightest on research to cure diseases, develop new technologies, explore the roots of economic problems, and create innovative solutions to pressing social issues.

By providing additional research and other funds, as well as conferring prestige, endowed chairs are a useful way of retaining top-class staff and developing and conferring legitimacy on new and innovative areas of academic inquiry.