Friday, October 29, 1999 Published at 07:08 GMT
Schools' gay ban to be lifted
Gay rights campaigners have welcomed the move
Scotland's First Minister Donald Dewar has described as "a badge of shame" the law which bans schools from promoting homosexuality.
Gay rights campaigners in England and Wales hope the move will prompt similar action south of the border.
Introduced in 1986 by right-wingers in the Thatcher government, the law forbids schools and councils from using lessons or publications to promote homosexuality.
The legislation will be part of the Ethical Standards in Public Life Bill and will be steered through parliament by the Communities Minister Wendy Alexander.
"If we are serious about tackling bullying in schools we need to acknowledge that bullying based on sexuality is a real problem."
She pledged that allowing councils to promote homosexuality would cut down on discrimination
Mr Dewar told BBC Scotland: "The repeal of Section 28 is justified because it is a clause that was put on the statute book amidst great controversy.
"It has always given deep offence and both my party and the Liberal Democrats pledged to remove it when we got that opportunity.
He added that he expected the Westminster Parliament to repeal the ban in England and Wales as well.
"This is the ideal opportunity to repeal the legislation. The government has said it will repeal the law at the earliest opportunity. That opportunity is now."
He added: "The legislation is damaging young lesbian and gay people. It is wrong to treat them as second class.
"It would be a shame if people in Scotland were faring much better than people in England and Wales."
'Too much promotion'
But Conservative MSP Phil Gallie said Labour was wrong to remove Section 28. "We should leave in place what has worked," he stated.
"I've no problems with people who live within their own premise and do their own thing quietly and in the background but there's far too much of a promotion aspect in things today and this clause refers to the promotion of homosexuality."
Roman Catholic church spokesman Monsignor Tom Connolly said: "Clearly we are not in favour of promoting homosexuality, either in schools or in society in general.
"On the other hand, in today's world, sex education is very important but I stress the word 'education' and not 'instruction'.
"I fear that too often people give instruction and pretend it is education. Education, I believe, is where you explore spiritual values of sexuality and base it firmly on human relationships."
Tim Hopkins, from the Lesbian and Gay Equality Network in Edinburgh, said: "Sex education does have to be based on human relationships but it needs to be inclusive and it needs to include young gay people in the class.
"At the moment it can't do that because of Section 28. Teachers can't give the support they should be giving to young gay people to protect them from homophobic bullying which is rife in our schools."