Ed Miliband: ‘The 10th anniversary of Section 28 repeal reminds us we must all speak against prejudice’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband, has spoken on the 10th anniversary of the repeal of Section 28, to emphasise the importance of its demise, despite saying there is still more to be done.

Section 28, introduced in 1988 by the Thatcher Government, banned “promoting homosexuality” to minors, and was repealed by Tony Blair’s Labour Government in 2003 for England and Wales. It was repealed in Scotland in 2000.

Mr Miliband told PinkNews: “I remember the campaign against Section 28 from my college days and the pain it caused for so many people. Yet it also brought together a renewed commitment from the LGBT community and its supporters to stand up against injustice.

“As we mark the 10th anniversary since Labour in government abolished Section 28 we remember that we must all speak up against prejudice. I don’t think that the person you love should determine the rights you have.

“I am proud of the positive role we have played alongside LGBT campaigners in the fight for equal marriage.

“Yet despite progress on equal marriage there is more to be done.

“Too many young people still fear to come out at school due to bullying. In too many places in the world it is still a crime to be gay. As we remember the abolition of Section 28 we should take this opportunity to speak with one voice against homophobia, hate crimes and discrimination.”

Section 28 was introduced under the Thatcher government as part of the Local Government Act in 1988.

It stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” and that schools “could not promote of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

Section 28 was repealed first of all in Scotland in 2000. It was later repealed under Tony Blair’s Labour government in 2003 for England and Wales and the current Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, apologised for the policy in 2009.

Following the death of Lady Thatcher in April, Labour leader Ed Miliband said her support for Section 28 caused gay people to be “stigmatised”.

During the debate around equal marriage in the House of Lords earlier this year, Baroness Knight, who introduced the legislation, insisted that she was driven solely by a concern to protect children’s innocence, before going on a bizarre rant during which she said gay people were “good at antiques”.

The Conservative peer voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in the House of Lords vote. She hit the headlines when she said a higher authority” than any peer, had “already decided that people are not equal”, because “some people can see, others are blind”.

She dismissed suggestions of homophobia on BBC Radio 5 Live by saying: “We’ve all got friends who are homosexuals. They are often extremely, very, very good at artistic things, very good at things like antiques, knowledgeable. No reason at all to say that they’re not loving.”

“One newspaper pilloried me for saying that homosexuals are artistic people, they’re very loving people – well, I was only saying what I believe, from my own homosexual friends,” Baroness Knight told The Independent.

In an interview first published in 2006 with PinkNews, then Conservative Party chairman Francis Maude condemned the anti-gay policies the Conservatives presented to the country during the 1980s and the 1990s. Mr Maude said the policies were “wrong.” One of the most controversial policies was Section 28, which he claims was: “in hindsight a mistake, I voted for it, I was a minister.”