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Sunday, 14 May, 2000, 08:13 GMT 09:13 UK
Council halts gay group cash
S28 graphic
The court did not grant Mrs Strain's request
Scotland's biggest local authority has stopped paying grants to gay and lesbian groups after a nurse raised legal action.

Sheena Strain took Glasgow City Council to the Court of Session, claiming it was promoting homosexuality contrary to Section 2a of the Local Government Act 1988 - commonly known as Section 28.

The legislation, which the Scottish Executive wants to abolish, prevents local authorities from promoting homosexuality.

Her request for an interim interdict was not granted, but the council gave an undertaking to suspend payments pending a full hearing.

My position would be that on the face of it there is an argument to be advanced

Lord Philip
Mrs Strain, from, Govanhill, brought the action because she believed her council tax money was being used in the promotion of homosexuality.

Her counsel, Anne Smith QC, told Lord Philip: "A new financial year having just begun she is apprehesive that expenditure on promoting homosexuality for the financial year 2000-2001 could be approved and made at any time.

"Mrs Strain is well aware there is currently a bill before the Scottish Parliament the effect of which would be to repeal the statutory provision on which she has brought the petition (for interdict)."

Courts sign
The first evidence hearing is about a month away
She pointed out that ministers proposed to include a specific requirement on authorities to give parents rights of consultation on sex education.

Mrs Smith said: "Mrs Strain, as a Glasgow council taxpayer, is very concerned at the prospect of her council spending money on what would be an illegal purpose.

"She is a member of the nursing profession and she does not object to the council expenditure on the promotion of health, but it is her submission that there is clear evidence that what has been done in the past is the promotion of homosexuality.

Neil Brailsford QC, for the local authority, said: "The position of the council is that these grants were all made in accordance with the law."

Council defends position

He said that the council maintained that it had not breached Section 28 in providing funding to gay and lesbian groups.

"If the court is of the view that no further payments should be made pending the resolution of this dispute then obviously the council will adhere to that," he said.

Lord Philip said: "My position would be that on the face of it there is an argument to be advanced.

"I wish to make it absolutely crystal clear I am in no way deciding the question. Clearly detailed argument will have to be advanced by both sides."

Glasgow City Council offices
The council says it has not broken the law
Mr Brailsford said that in light of the judge's comments he would give an undertaking on behalf of the council that no further payments would be made before the first hearing of the judicial review.

This is expected to be at least a month away.

Mrs Strain said in her action that the council a group called Phace (West) with 140,729 up to 1999. She said it was involved in the distribution of "a pornographic booklet" called Gay Sex Now.

"The tenor of these publications is that homosexual acts are exciting and it is assumed that young people will engage in them," she said.

In February, BBC News Online Scotland revealed that police were investigating a complaint about the contents of a gay and lesbian website, which receives 150,000 a year from the Scottish Executive.

Strathclyde Police confirmed on Friday that a report had been sent to the procurator fiscal but it is understood that no further action will be taken.

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See also:

25 Feb 00 | Scotland
Police investigate gay website
12 May 00 | Scotland
S28 move 'eases' teachers minds
11 May 00 | Scotland
Souter and Boy George clash
11 May 00 | Scotland
Ministers in Section 28 rethink
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