Attitude’s editor-in-chief has criticised BBC bosses for failing to hand out an Attitude Pride Award to the LGBT activists who protested against Section 28 during a live news broadcast in 1988.
Matt Cain described the decision by BBC bosses not to help honour members of Lesbians Against the Clause – who famously interrupted The Six o’Clock News on BBC One almost 30 years ago in protest at the introduction of the anti-gay legislation – at the Attitude Pride Awards in London on Friday (July 7) as “outrageous”.
The gay rights group came to national attention when four of its members invaded a BBC news studio on the eve of the introduction of Section 28, a homophobic piece of legislation passed by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government banning the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality by local authorities.
Several of the group’s members were honoured on Friday with an Attitude Pride Award, designed to recognise everyday heroes who have helped improve the lives of LGBT+ people – but it was left to Channel 4 newsreader Cathy Newman to present the award after BBC bosses turned down the opportunity to honour the gay rights activists themselves.
Declining an invitation to hand members of Lesbians Against the Clause their prize, the BBC told Attitude in a statement: “Unfortunately, we are simply not in a position to fulfil the invitation to present an award.”
Describing the BBC’s decision as “outrageous”, Matt Cain says the the corporation’s refusal to help honour the women is “spoiling… a landmark moment in LGBT+ history”.
“We’re delighted to be honouring the brave lesbians who stormed the BBC newsroom in 1988 to protest against Clause 28, a horrendously homophobic piece of legislation that has since been repealed,” he says.
“But it’s outrageous that BBC News is spoiling this celebration of a landmark moment in LGBT+ history by refusing to send a single one of its hundreds of news presenters and correspondents around the country to present the award.”
He continues: “Yes, the lesbians’ protest was unconventional and may have caused the BBC embarrassment at the time, but sometimes the cause justifies the means, as most people are now happy to acknowledge was the case with the Suffragettes.
“Here at Attitude we see Lesbians Against the Clause as following in that same brilliant tradition.”
The infamous Lesbians Against the Clause BBC protest saw the four activists – hiding behind the names Sarah, Charlottes, Anne Eleanor – entere The Six o’Clock News studio as the programme began to air calling out: “Stop Section 28.”
The programme continued with newsreader Sue Lawley reading the headlines as the disturbance was heard off-screen. Eventually, Lawley acknowledged the protest while, off camera, her colleague Nicholas Witchell held the women back, famously sitting on Sarah.
The foursome succeeded in their mission to draw attention wider public attention to the first piece of anti-gay legislation introduced in Britain for decades.
One of the woman involved, Booan Temple, explained: “We could not get the news to report on it so we thought, ‘Well, we’ll just be the news’”.