Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/996/27388

From The Socialist newspaper, 23 May 2018

30 years on from Section 28: the legacy of fighting LGBT+ attacks must continue

Fighting for LGBT+ liberation means fighting for socialism, photo by Paul Mattsson

Fighting for LGBT+ liberation means fighting for socialism, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Michael Johnson

On 24 May 1988 Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 was enacted in England, Scotland and Wales by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government. Its introduction would have a major impact, especially on young LGBT+ people, and spark major protests, with tens of thousands taking to the streets.

Section 28 stated that a local authority "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship."

The 1980s had been an incredibly turbulent time for LGBT+ struggle. Following the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK in 1967 and in the aftermath of the US Stonewall Riots, LGBT+ issues had become more prominent.

LGBT+ campaigning groups across the world were growing and staging Pride events to highlight the fight for LGBT+ rights.

This increased visibility and political assertiveness met with reaction from the right-wing media and political establishment, which deliberately blamed the growing Aids crisis on homosexuality. Gay men in particular were viewed as a threat to public health.

From 1986 on the Conservative Party made efforts to ban local councils from "promoting homosexuality". Thatcher denounced local education authorities for teaching schoolchildren that they had "an inalienable right to be gay".

In 1988 this anti-gay propaganda culminated in Section 28 - part of an act that also introduced compulsory tendering of council services (privatisation) to ensure they are "competitive", thereby attacking public sector jobs and services.

Section 28 was faced by protests even before it formally came into law. In high profile acts of direct action the night before the legislation was passed, lesbian activists abseiled into parliament and invaded the studios of the BBC's Six O'clock News while it was on the air.

More than 20,000 people marched against Section 28 in Manchester with similar protests happening across the country. While these protests weren't able to stop Section 28 at the time, they ensured pressure was put on local councils to ensure funding for LGBT+ services was still possible (frequently using Aids awareness as a loophole).

Section 28 served to galvanise LGBT+ people in England, Wales and Scotland, was the origin of a number of significant LGBT+ organisations such as Stonewall and energised numerous campaigns against discrimination and prejudice.

However Section 28 would, at the same time, have an extremely negative effect on LGBT+ people, especially teachers and young people.

It is frequently brought up, especially by Tories trying to diminish the negative impact of Section 28, that no one was ever formally prosecuted under the legislation and so it couldn't have been that bad or was even a failure.

In reality, due to the vagueness of Section 28 along with the homophobic rhetoric and moralising from politicians, very few people knew how "promotion of homosexuality" was being defined.

Was it saying being LGBT+ was okay? Was it acknowledging homosexuality existed? Was it being an out LGBT+ person yourself?

The lack of clarity would lead to scores of LGBT+ teachers being forced back into, or staying, in the closet due to fears and pressure from senior management, governors and even the press about being openly LGBT+.

Fear of prosecution would lead to teachers and public employees feeling unable to even address bullying of LGBT+ people in case this would be viewed as "promotion of homosexuality".

And as a result of this many young LGBT+ people would suffer an epidemic of name calling, at best, with many experiencing physical attacks for their sexuality as well. Most LGBT+ students would hear about their sexuality for the first time in relation to HIV/Aids and reading about being LGBT+ in terms of life expectancy.

Today, young LGBT+ people are more likely to experience mental health problems and are twice as likely to self-harm or attempt suicide. We must be clear that this is the legacy of Section 28, Thatcher and the Tories.

Section 28 was repealed under the Blair New Labour government in 2003 after years of campaigning and fighting. However, this repeal failed to take any steps to undo the damage of Section 28 in practice.

15 years later teachers and students are still fighting for sex education that positively includes LGBT+ issues.

Section 28 was a vicious piece of legislation that is still being felt today. And due to this it was a pivotal moment for LGBT+ people, bringing them and their supporters together with new confidence.

This would serve to push through many steps forward beyond repealing Section 28.

While a direct attack like Section 28 is unlikely today due to this confidence, we know that the policies of austerity by governments and local councils have no less of an impact on LGBT+ workers and young people.

It's vital then that we not just remember the fight against Section 28 but continue its legacy of mass action in the streets, community groups and trade unions; fighting not just against individual attacks but for a socialist change in society that means equality and genuine liberation for all.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 23 May 2018:


What we think

Tories prepare for possible snap election


Socialist Party news and analysis

Capitalism's Grenfell shame - Tories must go

Homeless charity colluding to deport homeless!

Youthful enthusiasm to break with repression of past

New Ebola threat

Government continues to back failed private rail

Support refugees rights


France '68

May 1968: 'Communist' leaders hand power back to defeated bosses


Socialist Party workplace news

Victory: how school strike beat 'academy' privatisers

Threat to unity of PCS left

PCS conference votes for strike action

Solid strike at Tesco Dagenham distribution centre forces pay talks

Services disappearing from Harrogate

College staff caught between the devil and the deep blue sea

First ever strike at TGI Fridays


International socialist news and analysis

Yes to the struggle to lift the siege

Tax Amazon movement wins in Seattle


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Stop Trump! Build for 13 July student walkouts

Student leaders claim one million on the streets against Brexit - fight for a workers' exit

Let's sell 1,000 extra copies of issue 1000!

Leicester socialists fight poverty-paying sweatshops

Sheffield Pride organisers defeated in attempt to ban politics

40 attend Socialist Party housing campaign launch in Windsor


Section 28

30 years on from Section 28: the legacy of fighting LGBT+ attacks must continue


Opinion

How 'Prevent' training fosters racist paranoia

Ads won't fix it: fight mental health cuts as well as stigma

We can learn about struggle from the mass trespass of Kinder Scout

The Socialist Inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 23 May 2018   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Section 28:

triangleTories' LGBT Action Plan: 'A cynical ploy with no solutions'

triangleLGBT people need militancy, not false 'allies' like David Cameron

LGBT:

trianglePriced out of Pride

triangleBristol Socialist Party: Defend LGBT+ rights

triangleStonewall riots' legacy shows need for socialist struggle to win LGBT+ liberation

triangleSexual harassment of LGBT+ workers shows need for unions to fight

Teachers:

triangleCarlisle election meeting: Education - time to make the mega-rich and corporations pay

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleMoney doesn't make up for cuts - education unions must organise for funding and against Tory attacks

Gay:

triangleSupport for Socialist Party campaigns at biggest ever Leeds Pride

triangleLessons from the Russian revolution for LGBT+ struggle today

Government:

triangleThe Great Big Socialist Party Quiz 2019

AIDS:

triangleVital depiction of fight for Aids prevention and treatment

Education:

triangleSave education - Kick out the Tories

Tories:

triangleTrump and Tories are a threat to environment

Pride:

triangleBirmingham Pride - revitalising political struggle

Sex:

triangleOver one million students strike against sexism and for inclusive sex education

Mental health:

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

School:

triangleBrighton anti-academy campaign steps up

Conservative party:

triangleWhat now for Brexit?

Discrimination:

triangleCardiff Socialist Party: Fighting for the rights of young workers

Lesbian:

triangleWarts-and-all account of class war and the struggle for LGBT+ rights

Historic events

Historic events

6/11/19

Berlin Wall

30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall: How a mass revolutionary movement for genuine socialism was diverted

30/10/19

Obituary

Obituary - Bob Lee: 1954 - 2019

30/10/19

Butterfields

How working-class tenants beat Gentrification

30/10/19

Wall Street Crash

The 1929 Wall Street Crash: When the capitalist system was on its knees

16/10/19

China

China after the 1949 revolution: the benefits of the planned economy stifled by bureaucracy

2/10/19

Labour

40 years on: Mandatory reselection more vital for Labour than ever

14/8/19

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland, August '69: 'Battle of the Bogside' and British troops on the streets

14/8/19

Peterloo

The Peterloo Massacre 1819: When a fearful ruling class tried to crush working-class political aspirations

17/7/19

Leicester

The 45th anniversary of the strike

17/7/19

US

50 years since Apollo 11 - 'One giant leap': how political conflict launched the moon landing

3/7/19

LGBT

Stonewall riots' legacy shows need for socialist struggle to win LGBT+ liberation

26/6/19

Orgreave

35th anniversary of the Battle of Orgreave

5/6/19

Tiananmen Square

The Tiananmen Square massacre - 30 years on

3/4/19

Nuclear power

40 years after Three Mile Island disaster

27/3/19

Visteon

Visteon: when factory occupations stayed the hands of the bosses

triangleMore Historic events articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999