On this day in 1988 the British parliament really outdid itself when it enacted an amendment to the 1986 Local Government Act. Yes, I know it sounds dull. Local government amendments? What now? But this was no ordinary amendment. This was Section 28, which made it illegal for local authorities to “intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality”, or this little doozy, “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.
Yes, everybody, back it in the Thatcherite “golden
shower” years of the eighties, the government was really worried that local authorities were actively trying to turn all our children gay. I mean obviously, I remember my school days earlier in the eighties when I was promised a nice flat, a car and £30k in my bank account if I would just stop worrying and learn to love the muff, but I’m not convinced that was actual promotion. In fact I’m not convinced that it happened at all. What was happening in the 1980s was that many – mostly Labour and Liberal – local authorities were actively seeking to ensure that homosexuals were not discriminated against and that children who were struggling with their sexuality were given support in schools and outside groups. Of course to someone with the mindset of a prehistoric fucknuckle, this translated as “OMG! They are trying to make our children gay! Oh no, will no one think of the imaginary grandchildren I will now never have because Tarquin prefers bumming Nigel to making sweet procreative love to Camilla!”. They reacted, as all reactionaries do, with the sort of mental over-reaction that would have made even the most prudish of Victorians ask “Are you sure you’re not being a bit previous, old girl?”.
Of course, the government were aided in their attempt to make gays pay for being gay and probably giving AIDS to innocent new-born babies, by the right-wing media, whose enthusiasm knew no bounds when it came to inventing stories about those dreadful predatory queers. As far as I know, they never went to so far as to claim that Islington Council were giving lessons in muff diving and their neighbours in Haringey (HarinGAY!) were teaching impressionable young, pert and terribly firm boys how to give the best blowie in history whilst receiving up the bottie, but virtually nothing was beneath them during this period. As a result the amendment was enacted and for the next fifteen years in England and Wales (but only twelve in Scotland), anyone gay was allowed to be gay, but only if they shut up about it and didn’t “promote” it.
Sane voices wondered how on earth
one “promoted” ones sexuality and how on earth one convinced someone to change their sexuality by virtue of letting them know a little too much about the alternatives. But sanity wasn’t in fashion – it rarely is – and so we spent a decade and a half wondering exactly what would get one convicted under this amendment. Therein lay the real problem – in the period before its repeal there was only one case brought using section 28, the Christian Institute took Glasgow City Council to court for funding an AIDS support charity. The Christian Institute failed to have their charges taken seriously – people were unsure what they could and could not do with regard to anything vaguely to do with homosexuality and many erred on the side of caution. As it was, the amendment covered local authorities and not schools, but a lot of support for gay students disappeared, because schools were worried about what might happen to them if they were seen to be supporting gay pupils. It was ridiculous, damaging and utterly heinous that something so draconian and illiberal should take place in an allegedly civilised and modern country at the end of the 20th century.
As time went on, the amendment became less powerful in people’s minds and less of a deterrent to sanity. By the time it was repealed
most schools and local authorities had ceased to pay any attention to it. This was great, but its place on the statute books was a blot on the conscience of this country. The new Labour government first tried to get it repealed in 2000,but failed when the Lords refused to pass it. Scotland, which by now had a devolved parliament of its own, binned it immediately. It wasn’t until 2003 that we finally got rid of this hateful piece of legislation. It should, however, be noted, that our current bum-faced overlord David Cameron was very pro-Section 28, that is until he got a whiff of power and decided it would be good for him to like the gays. In 2000, when he was not yet an MP he attacked Tony Blair for trying to repeal the amendment and called him anti-family and accused him of wanting to promote homosexuality in schools. In 2003, when he was an MP, he continued to support Section 28 and tried to get parts of it retained. By 2009 he was apologising on behalf of his party for ever having introduced the legislation, but let’s face it, he spent years being anti-gay, so all the stuff now is nothing but lies and bollocks.
So, there we have it dear readers. Back after a break with a little bit of politics. If you like this piece, please feel free to say so and if you will also sign up to become a gay, I will send you a free gift*. A promotion if you like.
*Free gifts will only be sent upon receipt of video evidence of suitably hot gayness.
Today is the birthday of Eric Cantona, footballer, philosopher and shit hot kung fu kicker of facesty football supporters.
I really like Eric, which is odd given he played for Manchester United, or the Scum or ManUre as they are more commonly known, and I really do not like that team at all. But Eric is a man who sort of stands head and shoulders above other footballers. Being French helps, but so does the bat shit stuff he comes out with in interviews. The most famous being the one that was said in the press conference following the kung fu kick “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much.”
Since retiring from football, he has acted – really rather well – and gives the impression of a fully rounded man, whose life has as much meaning away from football, if not more. His Gallic charm is, well, terribly charming and M. Cantona manages to become more attractive and more interesting with each passing year.
And of course there is that kung fu kick. Class.
Joyeux anniversaire, Eric. Les mouettes à Brighton parle bien de vous.