American gay rights campaigner Frank Kameny has had an asteroid named after him.

The activist, who died last October aged 86, was sacked from his government job as an astronomer in 1957 for being gay. He later became one of the leading lights of the US gay rights movement.

Associated Press reports that Canadian amateur astrologist Gary Billings read Mr Kameny’s obituary and decided to honour the campaigner in a fitting manner.

He and other astronomers submitted a citation to the International Astronomical Union in Paris and the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, asking for Minor Planet 40463 to be named Frankkameny.

The asteroid was discovered in 1999 and can be seen in through a telescope in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Its official name was announced in the Minor Planet Circular earlier this month.

When Mr Kameny, who had a doctorate in astronomy at Harvard University, was fired in 1957, he told he was “automatically a security risk” and a “disruptive personnel factor” because of his sexual orientation.

He pursued a discrimination case to the Supreme Court, leading to the first civil rights claim based on sexual orientation to come before the court.

The campaigner later founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, one of the earliest gay and lesbian campaigning societies, and became the first openly gay candidate for Congress in 1971. In 1965, he and ten others held the first gay rights protest outside the White House.