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BBC Scotland's Isabel Fraser
"Protestors outside the assembly called for the Kirk to oppose repeal"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 24 May, 2000, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Kirk 'accepts' Section 28 repeal
General Assembly
The debate was at times heated
Church of Scotland leaders have accepted that the controversial Section 28 law will be repealed, but they have urged safeguards to be put in its place.

After almost two hours of heated debate at the church's annual assembly in Edinburgh, commissioners gave support to the Scottish Executive's bid to abolish the 12-year-old piece of legislation which governs what can be taught about homosexuality in schools.

But they emphasised that their support was only being given on the basis that fresh safeguards, including the importance on the emphasis of marriage, are put in place.

Ballot form
Scots are being canvassed via a postal ballot
The issue of whether Section 28 should be repealed continues to be a controversial one, both inside and outside the church.

On Wednesday, Kirk assembly members were asked to consider a report on the subject prepared by the church's Education Committee and its Board of Social Responsibility.

Education convenor, Jack Laidlaw, said that parents had been "unnecessarily alarmed by scare stories" of gay groups being ready to "flood schools with propaganda".

He added: "A caring church should be glad to see this badly phrased piece of legislation abolished."

'Forced to make choice'

Mr Laidlaw's social responsibility counterpart, Ann Allen, condemned the lack of a specific reference to marriage in the proposed new legislation.

Another speaker, Sarah Roy, questioned why young people should have to make a choice between their faith and their sexuality.

Kirk report
Commissioners want marriage to be emphasised
Kirk representatives will now be explaining the Church's stance to politicians before the crucial vote in the Scottish Parliament.

There had been concern that the debate would be stifled with officials proposing an hour long managed discussion with no conclusions.

But a full debate, including motions counter motions and voting, is now expected.

One key petition called for the Kirk to stress the importance of marriage while reaffirming the assertion that homosexual acts are contrary to God's will.

Soon after plans were announced to abolish the clause, a group was set up to lobby for the status quo.

The Keep the Clause campaign, funded by Scottish millionaire Brian Souter, has insisted throughout that there would be no let-up in the bid to retain the legislation.

It is currently conducting a Scotland-wide postal ballot, in which people are being asked for their views on the abolition of Section 28.

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See also:

14 May 00 | Scotland
S28 move 'eases' teachers minds
07 May 00 | Scotland
March for Section 28 repeal
06 May 00 | Scotland
Section 28 vote dubbed a farce
11 May 00 | Scotland
Souter and Boy George clash
11 May 00 | Scotland
Ministers in Section 28 rethink
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