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BBC Scotland's Iain Macwhirter reports
"Those opposed to repeal of Section 28 insist they are not homophobic"
 real 28k

Sunday, 16 January, 2000, 15:55 GMT
Minister seeks gay law compromise

Children The minister said standards would be maintained


The minister who announced plans to repeal the controversial law banning the promotion of homosexuality in Scottish schools said she believes a compromise can be reached on the issue.

Communities Minister Wendy Alexander is facing stiff opposition, with millionaire transport boss Brian Souter the latest figure promising to fight the Scottish Executive over the matter.

Mr Souter, a Christian and father of four, reignited the row last week when he announced that he would offer an unlimited amount of money to any organisations willing to conduct a concerted campaign against the plan


Wendy Alexander Wendy Alexander: Facing opposition
However, Ms Alexander said she was convinced a middle way could be found in ensuring that while the so-called Section 28 would be lifted, children would still be protected.

She said: "We don't have legislation for how we deal with drugs in schools, for example,or how we deal with abortion - it's the responsibility of the local education authority and the teacher.

"I think what parents are looking for from the Scottish Executive is a guarantee that if in any circumstances there was inappropriate material, or inappropriate teacher behaviour, in those circumstances is the government going to act?

"That's been the case and will be the case."

Promoting tolerance

Scottish First Minister Donald Dewar, who has now entered the debate, said the executive's stance was about promoting tolerance in a new century.

Mr Dewar denied his intervention was an attempt to "sideline" an embattled Ms Alexander and said: "What we are trying to do is to take away from the statute book a clause which I don't think gives any real safeguards, which I don't think has been useful and which is seen as deeply offensive by many citizens in our community.

"The idea that if you take away this clause you are advocating the active encouragement of homosexuality is a nonsense."

However, there are significant individuals and groups within Scotland ranged against Mr Dewar and his cabinet.

Cardinal Thomas Winning, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has vigorously opposed the executive's plans and a federation of Christian groups has organised a petition demanding that Section 28 be kept in place.

The Scottish School Boards Association is due to make a submission to the Scottish Parliament this week calling on the executive to scrap reform.

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See also:
15 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Caution over gay law cash offer
14 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Boycott call in Stagecoach 'anti-gay' row
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Millionaire funds anti-gay law campaign
29 Oct 99 |  Scotland
Schools' gay ban to be lifted
07 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Anger at gay discrimination comments
31 Oct 99 |  UK Politics
Gay promotion ban to be lifted
11 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Tories change stance in gay row
18 Dec 98 |  The Company File
Green light for Stagecoach/Virgin deal

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