Section 28 – It Was Vile But What Was It All about?

The vile and homophobic Section 28 law was introduced on this day in 1988. Thankfully repealed, but what was it all about.

The policy 

Thirty years ago, Margaret Thatcher introduced a dangerous piece of legislation that shook the lives of LGBT people across the country. This amendment to the Local Government Act was known as Section 28, or Clause 2a in Scotland.

The implementation of Section 28 meant that LGBT groups and clubs around the UK were forced to disband and LGBT-themed literature was off the shelves in libraries. It meant that positive depictions of LGBT life were completely wiped out in schools.

As a result, the LGBT community was made to feel as though they were second-class citizens and felt pressured to censor themselves and assimilate into society. The effects of Section 28 lasted – and will continue to last – for generations.

Theresa May spoke out in support of Thatcher’s policy, claiming that ‘most parents want the comfort of knowing Section 28 is there.’

Section 28 discriminated against homosexuals and bisexuals. These are just a few examples of damaging it was.

  • By excluding homosexual support groups and appearing to prevent teachers from protecting victims of homophobic bullying, Section 28 was actually endangering vulnerable children.
  • Section 28 made the assumption that homosexuals were inherently dangerous to children, implying an association between homosexuality, bisexuality and paedophilia, as obvious from the “predatory homosexuals” argument of the supporters of the law.
  • Not only did Section 28 prevent the active positive promotion of homosexuality but also it appeared to give a legal reason to oppose it in schools and other forums if necessary.
  • The claim that Section 28 was a law which gave an impression to the public that the government sanctioned homophobia.
  • The idea that homosexuality could be “promoted” implied that homosexuality was a choice which people could be persuaded to make, in contrast to the Section’s opponents’ view that homosexuality is biologically determined.

The repeal

For fifteen years after it was introduced, grassroots campaigners fought to throw out the Tories’ homophobic policy, and in 2003 (2000 in Scotland), they succeeded.