Tag Archives: section 28

The Lib Dems’ Role in the repeal of Section 28 – 19 years on

This week marks 19 years since the repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Act in England and Wales, a landmark date for LGBTQ+ equality ensured by the Liberal Democrats.

Introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government in 1988, Section 28 (or Clause 2a in Scotland) was a controversial and dangerous legislative amendment to the Local Government Act, which sought to ‘prohibit the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities.’

The introduction of Section 28 was of little surprise to many campaigners following Thatcher’s address at the 1987 Conservative party Conference where she stated:

Too often, our children don’t get the education they need—the education they deserve. Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay. And children who need encouragement—and children do so much need encouragement—so many children—they are being taught that our society offers them no future. All of those children are being cheated of a sound start in life—yes cheated.

Once enacted, Section 28 prevented any form of positive depiction of LGBTQ+ life in schools. Teachers were banned from teaching or discussing LGBTQ+-related items, LGBTQ+ literature, or books containing a depiction of positive LGBTQ+ relationships, and additional resources were removed by schools. This was in addition to the disbandment of LGBTQ+ groups and clubs both within schools and those facilitated by local authority services in the community.

Upon its introduction, the Liberal Democrats were the first party to openly oppose the legislation. As a party, we were clear that teachers must be allowed to support pupils who come out to them, and schools must be allowed to provide information that presents LGBTQ+ attraction and relationships as valid and normal.

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This is a key moment in history – we must support all the oppressed and victimised

I have felt numb over the past few weeks, shocked that police could act in the way they did in the United States, but then worried as the Black Lives Matter debate took hold in the United Kingdom. Not worried about the protests – it is our democratic right to protest and question, even during a pandemic. But I was worried about what this would mean for the wider equality debate.

I am an openly homosexual white man, I state that because I am well aware of my privilege, my social scorecard only reducing when people realise that I am more effeminate and then gay. I have known ignorance and bigotry for most of my adult life, and, yes, it does still exist within our Liberal Democrat party.

I grew up with Section 28 wrapped around my neck, preventing holistic age-appropriate sexual education to take place, but, more importantly, protection from educators in my school environment. I felt constantly worried and sometimes terrified about going into school, with my teachers unable to discuss the root of my feelings. I remained ‘closeted’ until I went to university in 1999. However, I still struggled and only embraced myself after I turned 20. I am proud of who I am and what I am – something that still, to this day, many in the LGBT-plus community struggle with.

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Nick Clegg: “I’m extremely proud to be part of a government that looks to the future of LGBT rights.”

nick clegg pointingIn an interview for Pink News, to mark yesterday’s 10th Anniversary of the repeal of Section 28, 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.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 7 Comments
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