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Political editor Brian Taylor
"After all the campaigning and shouting it looks like a deal...probably"
 real 28k

Tim Hopkins, Equality Network
"So long as the proposals are non-discriminatory...I hope people will welcome them"
 real 28k

Saturday, 17 June, 2000, 07:37 GMT 08:37 UK
Campaigners hail S28 climbdown
Keep Clause poster
Ministers are hoping a deal can now be reached
Campaigners from Keep the Clause have welcomed a decision by the Scottish Executive to include a key "marriage clause" in a new law to replace Section 28.

Education Minister Sam Galbraith has accepted the crucial recommendation from an independent committee which has been trying to resolve the conflict created by the abolition move.

The announcement was viewed as a significant breakthrough and came in the wake of fierce opposition to repeal of the law, which prevents the promotion of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.


We commend the executive for listening to the public concerns regarding this need to protect children from inappropriate materials

Brian Souter, Keep the Clause
Keep the Clause campaigners have consistently sought a guarantee that the place of marriage should be legally enforced in new guidance to local authorities.

The group's high-profile leader, millionaire Scottish businessman Brian Souter, said on Friday: "After a long hard battle I am relieved that common sense has finally prevailed. We commend the executive for listening to the public concerns regarding this need to protect children from inappropriate materials."

He went on to say that a demonstration organised for 24 June at Strathclyde Park will now take place under the banner of a "celebration of family values".

Independent committee

Until now ministers had insisted there was no need to emphasise marriage but the McCabe Committee recommended that the responsibility of marriage should be specifically mentioned.

They said the text of guidance to local authorities on teaching sex education should stress "....the importance of stable family life and relationships", with the crucial addition "....including the responsibilities of parenthood on marriage".

Education Minister Sam Galbraith refused to be drawn on suggestions of a U-turn, but said: " "I am very grateful to the committee for the report which I have now received. It endorses the executive position.

"The committee has asked me to include a phrase about the responsibilities of parenthood and marriage.

Sam Galbraith
Sam Galbraith: Accepting committee proposal
"As a married parent myself I fully understand these responsibilities and I have absolutely no difficulty with that phrase nor should anyone else."

Scottish National Party education spokeswoman Nicola Sturgeon MSP said the executive had finally caved in to a proposal put forward by her party months ago.

She said: "I think the most important thing is that we settle the issue now, with reassurance for parents and an assurance that children will be taught sex education in a responsible context."

However, Scottish Tory local government spokesman Bill Aitken MSP said ministers had been in a total state of flux over the matter.

He said: "I think it's not so much a question of doing a U-turn, more of turning somersaults.


I think it's not so much a question of doing a U-turn, more of turning somersaults

Bil Aitken Tory MSP
"Quite frankly, what has been going on has been quite incredible."

Tim Hopkins of the gay rights group Equality Network said he hoped the issue would finally be resolved.

He said: "I don't think this is a U-turn. I don't think the executive ever said the sex education curriculum should not include a discussion of marriage, that would be ridiculous.

"So long as these new guidelines and guidance are non-discriminatory and inclusive, and my understanding is that they are, then I hope everyone will welcome them."

Mr Galbraith had previously remained defiant throughout the whole debate that legally binding measures would not be necessary.

Tim Hopkins
Tim Hopkins: "I hope guidelines will be welcomed"
He and other ministers had also refused to back a compromise amendment put forward by a Labour MSP.

Michael McMahon's so-called "marriage clause" promised to end the deep-rooted divisions in the controversy.

However, the amendment failed to get the support necessary when it came before the local government committee.

The McCabe Committee consisted of parents, teachers and church representatives appointed by ministers.

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See also:

31 May 00 | Scotland
Poll 'backs' Section 28
30 May 00 | Scotland
Section 28: They said it
29 May 00 | Scotland
Ministers reject S28 'compromise'
11 May 00 | Scotland
Souter defends Section 28 stance
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