Gay rights advocates have voiced concerns that those opposed to equal marriage are trying to “reintroduce Section 28 style discrimination” into Scotland’s schools, in an attempt to “roll back equality”.
Section 28, which was part of the Local Government Act 1988, stipulated that local authorities should “not intentionally promote homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.
It was repealed by the Scottish Parliament in June 2000.
The Equality Network has voiced concerns that through the current consultation around it, the new law could be taken advantage of those opposed to gay rights, such as politicians and religious groups.
The Scottish Government is currently consulting on its upcoming law to legalise equal marriage, and has sought opinions on its Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, including on areas such as education.
Scotland For Marriage, a group opposed to equal marriage, has already raised concerns about what will be taught in schools, arguing that parents should have the right to opt their children out of lessons mentioning equal marriage.
Tom French, policy co-ordinator at the Equality Network, said; “We are deeply concerned that opponents of same-sex marriage are attempting to reintroduce Section 28 style discrimination back into Scotland’s schools.
He added that the group was concerned that opponents were “attempting to reintroduce Section 28 by stealth.”
“This would roll back equality and have a damaging effect on young people and the wider education system.
“We firmly believe that school should be a welcoming environment for all young people, regardless of their sexual orientation or family situation. Schools have a duty of care to their pupils and it would be wrong to allow discrimination against LGBT people in the education system.”
Meanwhile, a briefing on the equal marriage consultation Christian organisation CARE for Scotland said: “Concerns have been expressed that should so-called ‘same-sex marriage’ be introduced it is likely that children will be taught in school that marriage can be between two people of the same sex.
“To raise a generation of children with such a subjective view of marriage, is a huge social experiment which is likely to result in severely detrimental consequences.
“Arguably it may even increase the occurrence of homosexual relationships.”
The consultation on its draft legislation – opposed by the Church of Scotland and the nation’s Catholic Church – will last until March.
The Scottish Government has pushed ahead with its equal marriage bill and said that all religious institutions – including the Church of Scotland – will be free to decide for themselves if they would like to provide marriages for gay couples.