Thirty Years since Section 28..

I was reminded by twitter that today is the 30th anniversary of the enactment of the Local Government Act 1988, which included the now notorious Section 28, which contained the following:

I remember very well the numerous demonstrations and other protests I went on as part of the campaign against the clause that became Section 28. Indeed, these were the first large political demonstrations in which I ever took part. But that repugnant and obviously discriminatory piece of legislation passed into law anyway. Students and younger colleagues of mine born after 1988 probably don’t have any idea how much pain and anger the introduction of this piece of legislation caused at the time, but at least it also had the effect of galvanising  many groups and individuals into action. The fightback eventually succeeded; Section 28 was repealed in 2003. I know 30 years is a long time, but it’s still amazing to me that attitudes have changed so much that now we have same-sex marriage. I would never have predicted that if someone had asked me thirty years ago!

I think there’s an important lesson in the story of Section 28, which is that rights won can easily be lost again. There are plenty of people who would not hesitate to bring back similar laws if they thought they could get away with them.  That’s why it is important for LGBT+ people not only to stand up for their rights, but to campaign for a more open, inclusive and discrimination-free environment for everyone.

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4 Responses to “Thirty Years since Section 28..”

  1. Alan Heavens Says:

    It is extraordinary that it was passed as recently as 1988, and that it was still in place in 2003. I worry that we take for granted that progress is never reversed, but examples elsewhere suggest that one shouldn’t be complacent.

  2. Pippa Goldschmidt Says:

    Gosh, that takes me back. Reading the actual wording of Section 28 is a sharp reminder of its sheer awfulness. Even the exception to the prohibition on ‘promoting homosexuality’ is utterly abhorrent in its linking of ‘homosexuality’ to ‘disease’. I remember I was in my first year at Leeds Uni when the relevant Local Govt Bill started going through Parliament, and in the summer of 1987 the Lesbian and Gay Soc at the Uni asked straight people to accompany them to Pride in London to show a united opposition to Clause 28, as it was then called because the Act was not yet passed. (Apologies for virtue-signalling!) so I went on the march and it was a memorable occasion. One of the most important political demos I have ever been on. And yes, so much has been achieved but we can never be complacent.

  3. Note that many countries still have similar (or worse, e.g. the death penalty for being gay) laws. When there was apartheid in South Africa, there were international sanctions. Most countries today have no problem doing business with countries where homosexuality is suppressed, illegal, or even punishable by death. I saw on the news recently that football fans from Brazil are warned not to do anything which could “look gay” when visiting the World Cup in Russia.

  4. “LGBT+”

    The editorial in this month’s member magazine of the German Physical Society mentioned “LGBTQIA+”, noting that “everything else” is in the “+”. Why not just “+” for everyone? Isn’t it discrimination that some groups have their own letter and some don’t? In particular, “P” (for polyamorous and/or pansexual) is often missing. At least in some countries, such people are where homosexuals were not that long ago: it’s not illegal, but not mentioned in polite conversation, for fear of problems, including those from the groups with their own letters (often invoking the slippery-slope argument and/or worrying that being too inclusive would hurt their own agenda).

    Who decides which groups get their own letters?

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