The woman behind Section 28 has apologised for the homophobic law.
Baroness Jill Knight was the main driving force behind the law which forbade schools to promote homosexuality and Thursday (May 24) marked 30 years since the legislation was put in place and Baroness Knight revealed her motivation was for the welfare of children.
While speaking to Attitude’s former editor on the BBC, Baroness Knight said: “The intention was the well-being of children, and if I got that wrong, well sorry but I didn’t believe… I’d have welcome a letter from someone like you who knew what that legislation was feeling like.
“I’m sorry if anything I did upset you. All I was trying to do was acting on what people wrote to me, said to me, what the papers said.”
The effects of the most anti-gay piece of legislation of modern times are still felt today, 30 years after, with many people claiming their HIV diagnosis was due to the lack of teaching in schools.
After winning that summer’s election, with a campaign that included overt homophobic posters, at the Conservative Party Conference in October 1987, then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher persisted, denouncing Labour councils in her main speech.
“It’s the plight of individual boys and girls that worries me most,” she proselytised. ”Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught they have an inalienable right to be gay… all of these children are being cheated out of a sound start in life. Yes, cheated!”
Knight and fellow Tory MP David Wilshire, revived an idea by Lord Halsbury, proposing an amendment to the Local Government Bill, which stated that local authorities “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.”
Section 28 was repealed in 2000 in Scotland, and three years later in England and Wales.
It was never used to prosecute a school or local authority. The age of consent is now equal; we can serve in the armed forces, adopt, marry, and we have protections under the law.