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Friday, 21 January, 2000, 15:45 GMT
Section 28: The gay rights campaigner's view




Douglas Slater, a founder of the Stonewall gay rights organisation in Britain, outlines the history of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 and why the gay community wants it swept away:






It was a piece of bad, knee-jerk legislation which came into being when a few Conservative MPs ambushed a local government bill in the House of Commons late one night and added this clause.

The MPs had been moved to act by a sensationalised tabloid newspaper story about a book, which one left-wing Labour-controlled council had a single copy of, in a resource library.

It was about how a child might deal with living in a household with two gay men as her fathers.

This coincided with the Tory Party Conference in 1987, and the story goes that the then prime minister, Mrs Thatcher, was walking past Jill Knight who said "we must do something about loony-left councils promoting homosexuality in schools".

Almost without thinking, Mrs Thatcher said: "Yes. Why don't you work it into the local government bill?".

The gay community hates it - it is a totem of extreme intolerance, a quite straightforwardly discriminatory act of parliament.

It encourages bullying in school playgrounds of children who may be homosexual or who are thought to be lesbian and gay, and it denigrates the value of gay relationships.

Even more vitally, it is inhibiting the teaching of safer sex among young gay men who have the highest death rate from Aids infection - and it's inhibiting the teaching in schools of the value of stable gay relationships.






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