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Sunday, October 31, 1999 Published at 15:35 GMT

UK Politics

Gay promotion ban to be lifted

Fighting the clause has been a high priority for gay rights activists

A law which prevents councils from promoting homosexuality will be scrapped in England and Wales after a similar move in Scotland, the government has indicated.

A Downing Street spokesman said the government would look to repeal Section 2a of the Local Government Act 1986 - commonly known as Section 28 - "at a suitable opportunity."

[ image: The message seems to have got through at Westminster]
The message seems to have got through at Westminster
The move comes after Scottish Executive communities minister Wendy Alexander formally announced on Friday the clause was flawed and would be repealed north of the border.

The law caused mass protests when it was introduced by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government in 1988, in the wake of several tabloid stories about "loony left" councils spending taxpayers' money on gay and lesbian groups.

It sought to ban local authorities from intentionally promoting or encouraging homosexuality through publications, campaigns or in schools.

But gay rights activists campaigned against what they saw as a prejudicial law which left teachers fearing they could not advise gay teenagers.

Move faces opposition

After the Scottish decision, First Minister Donald Dewar said: "I suspect movement south of the border may be very close behind. That's entirely a matter for them."

On Saturday a Downing Street spokesman said the government wanted to repeal the law, but details of how the change would be made were still being considered.

Scrapping the legislation is likely to come up against opposition from family groups and church leaders.

The Christian Institute's director Colin Hart said: "Section 28 was introduced because some councils were spending inordinate amounts of money promoting homosexuality in schools.

"I cannot understand why the Scottish Executive wants to legalise the promotion of homosexuality to Scottish schoolchildren."

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