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First Minister Donald Dewar
"We believe that repeal is right and necessary"
 real 28k

Pauline McNeill MSP
"It's important that we do repeal section 2a, and that we take parents with us"
 real 28k

Thursday, 24 February, 2000, 17:52 GMT
Dewar outlines Section 28 reform

Section 28 headlines
The were reports of a split in the Scottish cabinet

First Minister Donald Dewar has reiterated the Scottish Executive's commitment to repeal Section 28 and outlined a new duty of care for local authorities.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, he said Section 28 was discriminatory against homosexuals and would be repealed.

He also confirmed that a clause would be added to the bill on Ethical Standards in Public Life making the safety and well-being of children a priority.

I have no wish to introduce declaratory legislation, or to proceed on the basis of gesture politics
Donald Dewar
He told MSPs: "There has been a great deal of comment and, indeed, speculation about further legislative programmes and proposals.

"There has, put bluntly, been enormous pressure crowding in on every side.

'Stable family life'

"I want to make it clear that I have no wish to introduce declaratory legislation, or to proceed on the basis of gesture politics.

"We do intend to introduce a new section that lays a duty on local authorities in delivering services that relate principally to children, to have regard to the value of stable family life and to the need to ensure that the content of instruction given in the performance of these functions, is appropriate having regard to each child's age and understanding and stage of development."

Donald Dewar Donald Dewar: "Clause added to bill"
It emerged on Wednesday that the cabinet was split on how to reassure parents, MSPs, churches and concerned members of the public that homosexuality will not be promoted in schools after Section 28 is repealed.

Most of the Labour group accept the need for a clarifying clause.

Pauline McNeill, MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, said: "What we are clear about is that we are going to repeal the section, but we need to pay attention to concerns that have been raised with us."

Opposition views

But Lib Dem backbenchers have described the clause as appeasement and they want nothing other than repeal.

The Scottish National Party is more inclined to introduce some form of written guideline and possibly a new law. The Tories remain firmly opposed to the removal of Section 28.

Transport millionaire Brian Souter, who has bankrolled a Keep the Clause campaign, was scathing in his criticism of the new measures.

He said: "This proposed new clause is an insult to Scotland's parents.

"It offers no protection from the promotion of homosexuality and it places homosexual relationships on the same moral basis as marriage.

"We have to ask ourselves who have the government been listening to - gay pressure groups or Scottish families."

Gay 'discrimination'

Duncan Hothersall of the Equality Network welcomed the new legislation.

He said: " We also welcome the emphasis on age-appropriate education for all young people in Scotland.

"We challenge the opponents of repeal to endorse this proposal, which guarantees that no inappropriate material will be used in schools, and to cease their campaign against the repeal of Section 28.

"If they do not, it will be clear that they have been misleading the public, that their statements about protecting our children were a smokescreen, and that their real agenda is the promotion of discrimination against gay people."

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See also:
24 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Clause to replace Section 28
23 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Gay law row threatens coalition
22 Feb 00 |  Scotland
MP rekindles Robertson row

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