Good riddance to Section 28

21st January 2000 at 00:00
TEACHER AND parent Martin Flynn's outburst, about Retaining Section 28 (TESS, January 7) may well land on cultivated and "fertile" ground. He does not speak for us all.

Unwittingly or not, when the ignoble Conservative Section 28 of the Local Government Act (1986) described same-sex relationships as "pretend families" it also echoed one of the many evil spirits of Hitler's Germany.

The forces of conservatism and its lobbyists may be nurturing the essence of the homophobia espoused in the name of Nazi "purity". The intolerance we see may be as grim as this, and a good enough reason to see the dangerous and discriminatory legislation repealed. There is a dynamic connection between existing legislation, vicious homophobic bullies who brutalise gay people and those, sometimes eminent, who call for all gay people to be removed from the military, teaching or any work associated with youngsters as well as any teaching about sexuality in schools.

Fortunately, political and human and children's rights are now prevailing and the Scottish Executive's determination to repeal Section 28 is certainly grounded in wider legal developments, compassion and evidece.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the Ministry of Defence's ban on homosexuality is illegal. Same-sex partners need to have lived together now for only two years before being allowed to stay in Britain - reduced from four. The Children's Society has lifted its ban on gay and lesbian individuals adopting or fostering children. The High Court Family Law Division and the law lords, citing considerable evidence, confirm that children can be successfully brought up by gay couples. The Inland Revenue acknowledges that a dependent partner in a same-sex relationship can receive a pension from an employer's scheme on their partner's death.

The TUC and STUC have called for discrimination at work on the grounds of sexuality to be made illegal. Bravely, Glasgow City Council has published departmental guidelines that condemned Section 28 as discriminatory, suggesting ways it could and should be circumvented by teachers and others. Such developments surely help steer a course away from some of the darker homophobic excesses of the last, and the new, millennium.

Andrew Johnson

Jordanhill campus

Strathclyde University.

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