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Monday, 28 February, 2000, 11:23 GMT
Bishops face Section 28 pressure
wedding rings
The church wants schools to "promote" marriage
Church of England bishops were facing renewed calls on Monday to back the Section 28 law banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools.

Campaigners are worried the bishops could be set to end their opposition to the government plans to scrap the controversial clause.

The group, led by former headmistress Dr Irene Riding, was planning to put pressure on the chairman of the Church's Board of Education chairman, the Bishop of Blackburn Alan Chesters, when the General Synod opened in London on Monday.

The Bishop held talks with the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, over compromise guidelines last week, after the Peers threw out government proposals to scrap the Section 28 legislation.

He said he wanted schools to be obliged by law to teach pupils that the traditional two-parent marriage is the only proper foundation for family life.

'We are not homophobic'

The synod, which continues until Wednesday, is not due to discuss Section 28.

Synod member Dr Riding, former head of St George's School, Ascot, in Berkshire, said she and other synod members would question him on the issue.

She said: "I and many other ordinary synod members are very concerned that Section 28 stays in place.

"I taught girls aged from 11-18 so I know a lot about sex education.

"We are not homophobic. We have best friends who are homosexual. But we object to it being pushed on to little children."

Conservative MP Sir Patrick Cormack, also a synod member, said he backed Dr Riding's stand.

He said: "There is no evidence that clause 28 has led to any bullying in schools.

"The chief inspector of schools has made that quite plain. I see no reason to remove it and it would send out the wrong signal if we do."

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24 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Clause to replace Section 28
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