Section 28

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But it's the plight of individual boys and girls which worries me most. Too often, our children don't get the education they need—the education they deserve. And in the inner cities—where youngsters must have a decent education if they are to have a better future—that opportunity is all too often snatched from them by hard left education authorities and extremist teachers. ... Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay. ... All of those children are being cheated of a sound start in life—yes cheated.
—Margaret Thatcher at the 1987 Conservative Party Conference.[1]

Section 28 or Clause 28[note 1] of the Local Government Act 1988Wikipedia's W.svg caused the addition of Section 2A to the Local Government Act 1986Wikipedia's W.svg and affected the United Kingdom. The amendment was repealed on 21 June 2000 in Scotland as one of the first pieces of legislation enacted by the new Scottish Parliament, and on 18 November 2003 in the rest of the United Kingdom by section 122 of the Local Government Act 2003Wikipedia's W.svg[2] under New Labour.

History[edit]

Section 28 originated in the social transition in British society from homosexuality as "illegal-but-discussed", to "legal-but-not-always approved", following debate in the 1950s and the 1967 decriminalisation of gay sex for those over the age of 21 in the Sexual Offenses Act.Wikipedia's W.svg[3]

The Daily Mail is outraged(!)[edit]

In 1983, the Daily Mail reported that a copy of a book entitled Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin,Wikipedia's W.svg portraying a young girl who lives with her father and his male partner, was provided in a school library run by the Labour-controlled Inner London Education Authority.Wikipedia's W.svg The author of this horrific book, portraying the evil homosexuals as ordinary people, said that:

...I was overwhelmed by journalists from different British papers who all hoped to get a story about how badly life had turned out for the little family in my book, Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin. They were very disappointed to discover that it was a fictional story, that the real people who inspired it hadn't fallen victim to any unmentionable disease - and, not least, that I was straight. When they concluded there were no scandals to be found, they lost interest and I didn't have any contact with the British press...[4]

Nonetheless, moral outrage over children being taught this book, as well as others in school ensued, and in 1987, the Conservative government in the UK (under the rule of Margaret Thatcher) issued warning posters claiming that the Labour Party was issuing the book Young, Gay and ProudWikipedia's W.svg to be read in schools, as well as Police: Out of School, The Playbook for Kids about Sex,[note 2][5][6] and The Milkman's on his Way,[note 3] which, according to Conservative wingnut Jill KnightWikipedia's W.svg – who introduced Section 28 and later campaigned against same-sex marriage[7] – were being taught to "little children as young as five and six", which contained "brightly coloured pictures of little stick men showed all about homosexuality and how it was done", and "explicitly described homosexual intercourse and, indeed, glorified it, encouraging youngsters to believe that it was better than any other sexual way of life".[8] But she's not homophobic, as she believes that the gays can be very artistic[7] and "very good at things like antiques".[9] (I don't know, either...)

Culture war and widespread demonstrations[edit]

More and more councils began to adopt wide-ranging anti-discrimination policies, including policies that protected LGBT people,[10] and these events became entangled in a form of culture war between the Conservatives and Labour – alliances between LGBT and labour unions such as the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)Wikipedia's W.svg formed by activist groups (such as Lesbians and Gays Support the MinersWikipedia's W.svg and Lesbians Against Pit ClosuresWikipedia's W.svg led to the adoption at the Labour Party Annual Conference in 1985 of a resolution calling the repeal of Section 28 and to criminalise discrimination of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.[11][note 4]

But it wasn't until 1987 that negative views of homosexuality peaked (following the AIDS crisis), and one year later, controversy arose and widespread protest demonstrations made a major contribution towards the subsequent passing of Section 28. In autumn 1986 a group of parents in the north-east London Borough of HaringeyWikipedia's W.svg began making complaints about the aforementioned book that was available to school children.[note 5] What started out as a request for the removal of one book, turned into a series of demonstrations across the nation.

Conservative election victory[edit]

In order to prevent any drastic measures happening To add fuel to the flames, the Conservatives had won the UK General Elections, and following the Conservatives' victory, Margaret Thatcher gave a speech to a Conservative Party Conference. In it, she warned of "far-left" extremist teachers in the "inner cities", shockingly indoctrinating children with the false notion that they had "an inalienable right to be gay"[12][note 6] and that she would put a stop to the far-leftist gay agenda thwarting Britain's green and pleasant land.Wikipedia's W.svg One year later, Section 28 was put into place.

Tactics of the Gay Liberation Front[edit]

Some have argued that the alleged militant tactics of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF)Wikipedia's W.svg[note 7] may have played a part in the enactment of this law. In 1999, Jill Knight, the previously mentioned wingnut, said this:

I was contacted by parents who strongly objected to their children at school being encouraged into homosexuality and being taught that a normal family with mummy and daddy was outdated. To add insult to their injury, they were infuriated that it was their money, paid over as council tax, which was being used for this. This all happened after pressure from the Gay Liberation Front. At that time I took the trouble to refer to their manifesto, which clearly stated: "We fight for something more than reform. We must aim for the abolition of the family". That was the motivation for what was going on, and was precisely what Section 28 stopped.[8]

(The GLF was quite confrontational and had been involved in skirmishes with various other religious movements in the United Kingdom – amongst its best known antics involved the Festival of Light,Wikipedia's W.svg[13] a grassroots campaign brought about by a group of Christians wishing to combat alleged permissiveness in British society.Wikipedia's W.svg[note 8] During their first meeting, groups of GLF members in dragWikipedia's W.svg invaded and spontaneously kissed each other; others released mice, sounded horns, and unveiled banners, and a contingent dressed as workmen obtained access to the basement and shut off the lights.[14] Needless to say, many right-wingers were not pleased with this sort of behaviour.)

Section 28 text[edit]

Section 28 became law on 24 May 1988. The night before, several protests were staged by lesbian women (one believed to be Annie "Mechanic" who lived at Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp), including abseiling into Parliament and a famous invasion of the BBC's Six O'Clock News.[15] However, despite these protests, the law was enacted. Section 28 of the Local Government Act said, in part:

28 Prohibition on promoting homosexuality by teaching or by publishing material.
(1) The following section shall be inserted after section 2 of the Local Government Act 1986 (prohibition of political publicity) —
2A "Prohibition on promoting homosexuality by teaching or by publishing material.
(1) A local authority shall not —
(a) intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality;
(b) promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) above shall be taken to prohibit the doing of anything for the purpose of treating or preventing the spread of disease."[16]

Note that, in the context of subsection (2), this was written during the HIV/AIDS crisis — i.e. it's okay to discuss gay people exist, so long as you tell your kids they're AIDS-riddled parasites.

Response[edit]

As Labour Party politician Tony BennWikipedia's W.svg said one day after the passing of this law:

...if the sense of the word "promote" can be read across from "describe", every murder play promotes murder, every war play promotes war, every drama involving the eternal triangle promotes adultery; and Mr. Richard Branson's condom campaign promotes fornication. The House had better be very careful before it gives to judges, who come from a narrow section of society, the power to interpret "promote".[17]

Effects[edit]

As it did not create a criminal offence, no prosecution was ever brought under this provision and its effects were chilling. However, its existence caused many groups to close or limit their activities or self-censor. For example, a number of lesbian, gay and bisexual student support groups in schools and colleges across Britain were closed owing to fears by council legal staff that they could breach the Act.[18]

Modern day support[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

Right up until its repeal, David Cameron was in full support of this legislation,[19] saying that he hated poofs did not support the "promotion of homosexuality in schools" and that the Labour Party was being "anti-family" in repealing the law.[20] However, as it became electorally damaging to be a homophobe he has since been informed by a spin doctorWikipedia's W.svg that this is the wrong way to go changed his mind, he has passed gay marriage when in coalition with his boyfriend the deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, despite a "disastrous" interview regarding his party's view on LGBT rights,[21] and the majority of his party voting against the legislation.[22]

Of course, there are some 'Kippers who want this legislation back...[23]

Similar legislation[edit]

Some have claimed that the Russian anti-"gay propaganda" lawWikipedia's W.svg has its basis in Section 28, except being a bit more anal and severe.[24][note 9]

In 2015, the Christian-based Evangelical Alliance's report to he Women and Equalities Select Committee's transgender inquiry, which said in part that "children should be protected from having to sort through [questions regarding sex or gender] before they reach an appropriate age", reminded many of the language used in section 28.[25] The full report is available here.

See also[edit]

Wikipedia[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Section 28 is sometimes referred to as Clause 28 – in the United Kingdom, Acts of Parliament have sections, whereas in a Bill (which is put before Parliament to pass) those sections are called clauses.
    When gay became a four-letter word . BBC. 20 January 2000. 
  2. Authored by Joani BlankWikipedia's W.svg
  3. Authored by David ReesWikipedia's W.svg
  4. However, not all leftist groups were united (they never are), and organisations within the labour movement (such as the Trotskyite Militant tendencyWikipedia's W.svg within the Labour Party) opposed LGBT rights.
  5. "Won't somebody please think of the children!"
  6. Mind you, the Tories really don't care that much about human rights nowadays, so not much change there...
  7. Not to be confused with the Animal Liberation Front or the National Liberation Front.Wikipedia's W.svg
  8. See the Wikipedia article on Nationwide Festival of Light.
  9. Severe? Anal? Don't tell David Cameron that...

References[edit]

  1. Clip of Thatcher in conference, and transcript.
  2. Local Government Act 2003, Government of the United Kingdom. Accessed 30 May 2015.
  3. Sexual Offences Act 1967 (c.60), 1 November 2009
  4. Bosche, Suzanne. Jenny, Eric, Martin . . . and me, The Guardian. Published 31 January 2000
  5. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  6. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Baroness Knight: Parliament can't help blind people see, so can't help "artistic" gays get married". Pink News. 3 June 2013. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Quoted in HansardWikipedia's W.svg, 6 December 1999, Column 1102.
  9. Baroness Knight: Gay men are 'very good at things like antiques', The Metro. 5 Jun 2013.
  10. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  11. "Solidarity and Sexuality: Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners 1984–5". Oxford History Workshop Journal, Volume 77, Issue 1 (Spring 2014), pp. 240–262.
  12. Thatcher, Margaret. Speech to Conservative Party Conference, 9 October 1987. Accessed 30 May 2015.
  13. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  14. Gingell, Basil (10 September 1971). "Uproar at Central Hall as demonstrators threaten to halt Festival of Light". The Times. p. 14. 
  15. When gay became a four-letter word . BBC. 20 January 2000. 
  16. Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1998. Accessed 30 May 2015.
  17. Tony Benn: "Long before it was accepted I did support gay rights" Roberts, Scott (14 March 2014). Pink News. 
  18. Knitting Circle 1989 Section 28 gleanings. Archived from the original on 18 August 2007. Accessed 30 May 2015.
  19. Watt, Nicholas (2 July 2009). "David Cameron's history on Section 28". The Guardian (London). 
  20. Channel 4's Profile of David Cameron: "Toff at the Top"
  21. David Cameron disastrous gay rights interview, Political Scrapbook, (YouTube).
  22. Gay Marriage Vote. BBC News, published 5 February 2013.
  23. Duffy, Nick. UKIP councillor: It is a tragedy Section 28 was repealed, gays want to destroy the traditional family. 18 May 2014. Accessed 2 June 2015.
  24. Robert Wintemute, Russia should learn from Britain's record on gay rights. 24 July 2013 14.50
  25. O'Toole, Michelle (14 October 2015). "Parliament told to make 'new Section 28' to prevent kids learning about trans people". Pink News.