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Alan Mackay reports
"The campaign is going ahead with Brian Souter's money"
 real 28k

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

Tuesday, 18 January, 2000, 12:47 GMT
Cardinal fires Section 28 broadside

Teacher Classroom teaching will be affected if the change comes in

The leader of Scotland's Roman Catholics has made his strongest attack yet on plans to scrap the law which bans the promotion of homosexuality in schools.

Cardinal Thomas Winning said he would not stand for homosexuality to be described as "wholesome and healthy".

And he called on First Minister Donald Dewar to make a clear statement on the Scottish Executive's attitude to homosexuality.

What pains me about this whole situation is that the silent majority are so silent that the silence is deafening
Cardinal Thomas Winning
Supporters of a campaign to retain Section 28 say they will step up their fight to stop the Scottish Executive from repealing the law.

Ministers insist they are not prepared to back down, insisting that the guidelines on the issue of teaching homosexuality need to be re-examined.

Scots businessman intervenes

The scrapping of Section 28 is included in the executive's Ethical Standards Bill.

The temperature of the debate rose dramatically last week with the intervention of Scotland's richest businessman, Brian Souter.

Donald Dewar Donald Dewar: Facing resistance
He is believed to have pledged up to 1m to the campaign - involving advertising, polling and petitions - to retain the law.

A spokesman for Stagecoach founder Brian Souter said the campaigners would not accept any wishy washy compromises.

He added that the cause had received generous offers of financial support from other individuals and groups which would help fund a campaign for six months to a year.

The group is now taking legal advice on the rights of parents under European law.

Meanwhile the minister who announced plans to repeal the law said she believes a compromise can be reached.

'Protecting children'

Communities Minister Wendy Alexander is facing stiff opposition but she says she is convinced a middle way can be found in ensuring that while Section 28 would be lifted, children would still be protected.

Mr Dewar said on Monday that local authorities, headteachers and parents would be vigilant over the teaching of sexuality.

Wendy Alexander Wendy Alexander: Will guide bill through parliament
"I want to see proper safeguards, good support and good counselling for children in schools and the community who may have problems with their sexuality.

"There is a danger we will lose sight of what this argument is about. It is about how we help children, how we get sensible sex education in our schools.

"There will always be a right for parents to withdraw their children from sex education classes."

Mr Dewar said a parallel move in Westminster had not attracted the same controversy.

There are significant individuals and groups within Scotland ranged against Mr Dewar and his cabinet.

Vigorous opposition

Cardinal Winning has vigorously opposed the plan and a federation of Christian groups has organised a petition demanding that Section 28 be kept in place.

Cardinal Winning Cardinal Winning: "Clear statement" demand
He said he deplored homosexual acts and urged Scotland's "silent majority" to speak out.

"What pains me about this whole situation is that the silent majority are so silent that the silence is deafening.

"I wish to God they would speak up for their society. I will not stand for this type of behaviour which is now being described as wholesome and healthy when it is far from it."

The cardinal refused to accept that homosexuality would not be promoted after the repeal, saying it was promoted every day by people on the street.

He demanded a statement from Mr Dewar on ministers' attitude to homosexuality, emphasising particularly the protection of children.

Voting records

Meanwhile, it emerged from voting records at Westminster that Mr Dewar did not vote in key divisions on the former Conservative government's Section 28 legislation when it was discussed and debated in the House of Commons in 1987.

A spokesman for Mr Dewar said: "He was opposed to what was then Section 27 and subsequently became Section 28 and he is opposed to it now.

"On the night of the vote he did not vote because he was paired with a Conservative MP, the late Sir Nicholas Fairbairn."

The spokesman said Mr Dewar "could not remember" what he was doing 13 years ago, but was clear he had not voted for Section 28 at any stage in its passage through the Commons.

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See also:
18 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Section 28: Question and Answer
15 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Caution over gay law cash offer
14 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Boycott call in Stagecoach 'anti-gay' row
14 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Millionaire funds anti-gay law campaign

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