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Wednesday, 2 February, 2000, 14:43 GMT
Peers plan to block Section 28 repeal

Peers fear children may be taught gay relationships are the equal of marriage

A cross-party of alliance of peers has warned Prime Minister Tony Blair that faces possible defeat on government plans to repeal a law preventing the "promotion" of homosexuality in schools.

The former Conservative leader of the Lords Baroness Young is leading the parliamentary campaign to prevent the repeal of Section 28 of the 1986 Local Government Act, and claims the support of some Labour and crossbench peers.

The proposed repeal will be debated by peers on Monday. Although Lady Young would put no figures on the size of any expected rebellion, she reminded the government: "The House of Lords is very independent-minded."

She added that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey and Cardinal Thomas Winning - representing the Scottish Catholics - are supporting her campaign along with leading figures in the Jewish faith and the Muslim community.

Baroness Young: Removing Section 28 would open the floodgates
Lady Young also said she had received more than 1,000 letters from the public, including worried parents, backing her stand.

Speaking at a London news conference Lady Young said: "I am quite certain that I speak for the majority of parents in this country who feel that they don't want their children taught about this in schools."

Those who support the repeal, including many teachers, have insisted that Section 28 prevents them from dealing effectively with homophobic bullying.

Lady Young said was "encouraged" by the support shown for her views in Scotland.

Lady Young put on display an exhibition of the kind of material she said she feared would be placed in front of schoolchildren if the law was changed, saying that 1m of public had already been spent by health authorities in "promoting" homosexuality.

'Experimenting encouraged'

Quoting some of the material on display, Lady Young said one leaflet given out by a health authority in Avon "encouraged" young people to experiment with boys and girls.

This was unacceptable, she said, as "I don't see a moral equivalence between homosexuality and heterosexuality".

She warned that repealing Section 28 would see the "floodgates" open on the publication of such information in schools.

Adolescent phases

Lady Young added: "Young children, especially boys, can be very confused about their feelings towards older men and hero worship them.

"It is a phase they go through and it's often the same with girls who develop a crush on older girls.

"If I had a homosexual son I wouldn't stop loving him, but that wouldn't mean that I thought it was right. Love often means saying to someone that they have done something wrong."

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See also:
06 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Peers urged to repeal Section 28

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