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banner Monday, 25 September, 2000, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Section 28 'back on the agenda'
Hilary Armstrong
Hilary Armstrong: "Unfinished business"
The government has signalled that it will try again to repeal Section 28, which prevents promotion of homosexuality.

Local Government Minister Hilary Armstrong said: "Let's not forget it's the Tories who try to stigmatise the entire gay community.

"They used the unelected House of Lords to frustrate our determination to repeal Section 28 and to build a society which is more tolerant."

To cheers, she added: "I promise you conference this is unfinished business."

The government decided to drop Section 28 abolition from the Local Government Bill after defeat in the Lords in July.

The measure banning the law, which prevents local authorities in England and Wales from promoting homosexuality, was defeated by a majority of 270 to 228.

Give and take

The decision to give up on repeal of Section 28 saved a costly bout of "parliamentary ping-pong" between the Commons and the Lords.

It also meant the government would get through the rest of the measures in its Local Government Bill, which includes plans for more directly-elected mayors and structural reforms to councils.

But the government faced intense pressure from gay rights groups, like Peter Tatchell's OutRage!, to push through the repeal as soon as possible.

If Labour includes the commitment to repeal the section in its next election manifesto, peers might not vote against the leglisation if Labour wins.

Under the so-called "Salisbury Convention", peers do not vote against commitments set out in a winning party's manifesto.

However, it is possible that the convention could lapse now that the Lords has been stripped of its hereditary element.

The clause in the bill affects authorities in England and Wales. Section 28 was scrapped in Scotland in June.

Shadow local government minister Nigel Waterson said: "The government's obsession with Section 28 illustrates how Labour's liberal elite are out of touch with the mainstream views of everyday people across Britain."

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See also:

25 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Ministers back down on gay ban
25 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Peers vote to keep gay ban
25 Jul 00 | Scotland
S28 repeal 'on course' in Scotland
25 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Section 28: An overview
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