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Eleven years ago today saw the end of Section 28

PinkNews.co.uk Staff Writer November 18, 2014
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Today marks the 11th anniversary of the end of Section 28, the effective ban on teaching about LGBT issues in schools.

Section 28, introduced in 1988 by the Thatcher Government, banned “promoting homosexuality” to minors, and was repealed by Tony Blair’s Labour Government in 2003 for England and Wales. It was repealed in Scotland in 2000. The Local Government Act which repealed the measure in England and Wales received royal assent in 2003 but schools and local authorities had a week to phase out the practice.

Section 28 was introduced under the Thatcher government as part of the Local Government Act in 1988.

It stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” and that schools “could not promote of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

Section 28 was repealed first of all in Scotland in 2000. It was later repealed under Tony Blair’s Labour government in 2003 for England and Wales and the current Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, apologised for the policy in 2009.

Speaking to PinkNews last year to mark the 10th anniversary of the Royal Assent of the Local Government Act 2003, Labour Leader Ed Miliband said: “I remember the campaign against Section 28 from my college days and the pain it caused for so many people. Yet it also brought together a renewed commitment from the LGBT community and its supporters to stand up against injustice.”

He added: “Yet despite progress on equal marriage there is more to be done.

“Too many young people still fear to come out at school due to bullying. In too many places in the world it is still a crime to be gay. As we remember the abolition of Section 28 we should take this opportunity to speak with one voice against homophobia, hate crimes and discrimination.”

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “Section 28 was a divisive piece of legislation that should remain consigned to the constitutional graveyard forever. We have made tremendous strides as a country in securing greater LGBT rights since then – not least in securing the landmark legislation to secure equal marriage that I have supported for years. There is of course further to go, particularly to help put a stop to homophobic bullying in schools. I’m extremely proud to be part of a government that looks to the future of LGBT rights.”

Following the death of Lady Thatcher last year, Labour leader Ed Miliband said her support for Section 28 caused gay people to be “stigmatised”.

During the debate around equal marriage in the House of Lords earlier this year, Baroness Knight, who introduced the legislation, insisted that she was driven solely by a concern to protect children’s innocence, before going on a bizarre rant during which she said gay people were “good at antiques”.

The Conservative peer voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in the House of Lords vote. She hit the headlines when she said a higher authority” than any peer, had “already decided that people are not equal”, because “some people can see, others are blind”.

She dismissed suggestions of homophobia on BBC Radio 5 Live by saying: “We’ve all got friends who are homosexuals. They are often extremely, very, very good at artistic things, very good at things like antiques, knowledgeable. No reason at all to say that they’re not loving.”

“One newspaper pilloried me for saying that homosexuals are artistic people, they’re very loving people – well, I was only saying what I believe, from my own homosexual friends,” Baroness Knight told The Independent.

In an interview first published in 2006 with PinkNews, then Conservative Party chairman Francis Maude condemned the anti-gay policies the Conservatives presented to the country during the 1980s and the 1990s. Mr Maude said the policies were “wrong.” One of the most controversial policies was Section 28, which he claims was: “in hindsight a mistake, I voted for it, I was a minister.”

Related topics: bullying, Conservative, David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Labour, legacy, Nick Clegg, schools, Section 28, Tory

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