Shared posts

24 May 06:06

28... years on

by noreply@blogger.com (Jen)
28 years ago today, Section 28 became law. It was not the first thing to make me pay attention to politics, but in the end it would be the biggest motivator in going from armchair to activism.

One of the joys of life today is that when you talk to young people, even politically informed queer young people, you have to explain what it was. Often this is followed by some incredulity that people thought such a thing was OK, let alone a popular vote-winner, just a few years ago. Yet David Cameron got elected into parliament through a campaign that included attacking the politically correct rascals on the other side with their wicked intentions to repeal the law.

Section 28 as it would be known, Section 2A as it more strictly became once law, and "the clause" in popular parlance at the time it was going through parliament, was an amendment to the 1986 Local Government Act, which said:
Prohibition on promoting homosexuality by teaching or by publishing material.

(1)The following section shall be inserted after section 2 of the Local Government Act 1986 (prohibition of political publicity)—
2A“ Prohibition on promoting homosexuality by teaching or by publishing material.

(1)A local authority shall not—

(a)intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality;

(b)promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.

(2)Nothing in subsection (1) above shall be taken to prohibit the doing of anything for the purpose of treating or preventing the spread of disease.

(3)In any proceedings in connection with the application of this section a court shall draw such inferences as to the intention of the local authority as may reasonably be drawn from the evidence before it.

(4)In subsection (1)(b) above “maintained school” means,—

(a)in England and Wales, a county school, voluntary school, nursery school or special school, within the meaning of the Education Act 1944; and

(b)in Scotland, a public school, nursery school or special school, within the meaning of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.”

(2)This section shall come into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.
In practice and in intent, Section 28 made homosexuality a thought crime, an act which Russia is busy proving to us was not solely possible off the back of 1980s HIV hysteria, though back in the 80s that probably helped. Despite the "homo" wording it was a bi and trans issue too, as there was such a deep lack of grasp of LGBT in the public consciousness back then.

It was a vague law - I remember hearing one Tory MP defend it to an LGBT audience claiming that as it was so poorly worded it didn't mean anything and therefore couldn't be homophobic in effect and did no harm. Fair play, if you're going to lie, make it a big one.

Actually the looseness of the language meant that it could be argued to prevent anything homophobes in positions of power wanted to stop happening. I saw it used to block information for schoolkids who wanted to know their human rights, to bar newspapers appearing in libraries, and to silence those who wanted to support people struggling with their gender or sexuality.  Even where there was support for gay people, it was used as an excuse to defend biphobia (to paraphrase but not by much, "section 28 means we can't give help or recognition to bi people, as that would encourage straight people to become gay")


It was a populist backbench Conservative bill introduced with Labour support, leaving only the Lib Dems on the other side of the argument. The Lib Dems had slightly more MPs than they do now but were still helplessly outnumbered. Knowing it was unlikely to be stopped outright, Bermondsey MP Simon Hughes brought forward changes that would have watered the measure down, but they lacked support beyond his own party. Labour's grassroots members started pressing their party's MPs to change tack and oppose the measure, but that took some time: and even if they could be persuaded, Margaret Thatcher was sitting on a majority of 100.

And so on May 24th, 1988 it became law.  It was the post-1967 nadir of LGBT equalities in the UK, adding to a litany of inequalities: employment, age of consent, adoption, partnership recognition, pensions, housing and so on.


But it had a galvanising effect on the LGBT community, not least by giving lesbians and gay men a common cause to fight around. Like the baddy in any story, the politically active queer organisations and individuals it spawned would bring about its own downfall, and spur momentum toward the near-equality we have for LGBT people with straight cisgender people today. 


It should have been gone in 1997 when the Tories left power, as the new government had pledged to a tight spending programme but here was something positive for society that could be done at no cost. Alas Labour chose not to include repeal of Section 28 in their manifesto.  In the great tension of "what is right to do" versus "what will upset the Sun and the Daily Mail", they decided that keeping the tabloids on side was more important than childrens' lives. That meant repeal had to wait until the 2001-2005 parliament as the pro-prejudice majority in the Lords blocked repeal. As it wasn't in the manifesto, Labour felt they couldn't overrule the Lords on the subject.

It went in Scotland in 2000 though - one of the prices of coalition the Lib Dems extracted from Labour at Holyrood; in England and Wales it would stick around until 2003.

I was a teenager in 1988, and though I had newspaper cuttings about the clause on my bedroom wall I no longer remember the day the clause became law. I remember the day it went though; for a little while I thought: we have won, it is ended, I can stop fighting now. Then the next day dawned and there was still far too much wrong in the world to rest just yet.
19 May 22:01

HERE COMES THE GENDER ROLE (RRRISE UP)

20 May 16:02

"On one side, you have Hamilton, and he’s mad. On the other side, you have Jefferson, and..."

“On one side, you have Hamilton, and he’s mad. On the other side, you have Jefferson, and he’s mad. And that’s about it.”

- Washington
20 May 18:01

Washington: We can't fight the British forever!

Washington: We can't fight the British forever!
Washington: Well we can, but I don't want to.
13 May 18:01

Aaron Burr: We need to talk.

Aaron Burr: We need to talk.
George Washington: That has never been true.
10 May 14:01

Alexander Hamilton: I'm just gonna stay angry, I find that relaxes me.

Alexander Hamilton: I'm just gonna stay angry, I find that relaxes me.
10 May 20:03

Alexander Hamilton: With my short existence, I can make a difference.

Alexander Hamilton: With my short existence, I can make a difference.
08 May 18:01

Non-Stop Rough Draft

Eliza: alexander.
Alexander: I have to leave.
Eliza: Alexander!
Alexander: Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to b-
Eliza: DON'T MODULATE THE KEY THEN NOT DEBATE WITH ME
06 May 18:01

Madison: Are you in fashion?

Madison: Are you in fashion?
Jefferson: I am fashion.
06 May 16:02

King George: I have an army

King George: I have an army
George Washington: We have Lafayette
02 May 22:02

"Such similar islands, Manhattan and I. Grand from a distance and fun when we’re high"

“Such similar islands, Manhattan and I. Grand from a distance and fun when we’re high”

- Thomas Jefferson
03 May 22:01

I AM NOT THROWING AWAY MY SHARK

05 May 14:00

Texts From Samuel Coleridge

by Mallory Ortberg

good news
i have written you another poem

is it –
don't worry
it's VERY long and EXTREMELY unfinished

oh good
it's about what if a woman saw another woman take her coat off
and it's 9000 lines

wow
it's so great that i can still write when i'm high and it doesn't affect my work

Read more Texts From Samuel Coleridge at The Toast.

05 May 16:00

Women Enjoying Heterosexual Kisses In Western Art History

by Mallory Ortberg

kiss1

you seem distracted, my love
do i really
you keep staring into the middle distance
oh
is that not you?
i'm always mixing up you with the middle distance
you look so much like the middle distance

Read more Women Enjoying Heterosexual Kisses In Western Art History at The Toast.

05 May 14:01

"Don’t take an intellectual to get that I’m bisexual."

“Don’t take an intellectual to get that I’m bisexual.”

- Alexander Hamilton
02 May 18:01

The code word is 'no shampoo!' Dig me?

25 Apr 00:00

Women on 20s

I get that there are security reasons for the schedule, but this is like the ONE problem we have where the right answer is both easy and straightforward. If we can't figure it out, maybe we should just give up and just replace all the portraits on the bills with that weird pyramid eye thing.
11 Apr 15:00

“Happens All the Time”: What I Do When I’m Stopped By Police

by Katrina Otuonye

In Queens, on my way to the train, I swipe my Metrocard at the turnstile. I go through, just like I have a million times before. I’m halfway up the stairs when I hear someone yell, “Hey!”

My stomach drops at the sight of the cop staring at me.

Read more “Happens All the Time”: What I Do When I’m Stopped By Police at The Toast.

18 Apr 18:00

Classical Paintings That Could Easily Double As Covers For Charming YA Lesbian Romance Novels

by Mallory Ortberg

lesbian13

The Long Way Home
Isabelle and Ruth find more than just a shortcut through the woods on a walk home from school.

Read more Classical Paintings That Could Easily Double As Covers For Charming YA Lesbian Romance Novels at The Toast.

16 Apr 20:07

Recursion II

by Mo

manfeels-park-45-recursion-ii

Source: Twitter, with thanks to @voldemortsbicep and Eve for the suggestion.

22 Apr 16:02

Angelica: I want you to know that I used to think there was nobody on this earth good enough for Eliza.

Angelica: I want you to know that I used to think there was nobody on this earth good enough for Eliza.
Hamilton: [smiles]
Angelica: And I still think that.
Hamilton: …Uhh
02 Mar 15:00

Men In Western Art Who Are So Nude It Makes Them Furious

by Mallory Ortberg
Holly

"HOW CAN I BE CALM WHEN MY WHOLE SKIN IS OUTSIDE"

nude1

my clothes 
like my dreams
are all behind me

Read more Men In Western Art Who Are So Nude It Makes Them Furious at The Toast.

29 Feb 15:00

Normal, Old-Fashioned Heterosexuality In Western Art History

by Mallory Ortberg
Holly

“Hebrides legality”!
"so now is when I stab him?
NO
when do I stab him them 
never
there’s no part
of heterosexuality
where you stab them"

15 Feb 00:00

Degrees

Holly

It me!

"Radians Fahrenheit or radians Celsius?" "Uh, sorry, gotta go!"
17 Apr 20:03

Washington: Did you shout National Debt, causing a panic?

Washington: Did you shout National Debt, causing a panic?
Hamilton: Yes I shouted that! I also shouted instructions on how to run the financial system, so you can imagine my frustration as Secretary of Treasury when no one would heed of--heeded--
Madison: Hed. Hedded.
Hamilton: when no one hedded--
Madison: take hedded of.
Hamilton: --no one would take hedded of my instructions!
17 Apr 22:02

"In the bathroom where most places have signs saying ‘Employees must wash hands’ we just..."

“In the bathroom where most places have signs saying ‘Employees must wash hands’ we just carved 'Land of the free’ directly into the wall.”

- Thomas Jefferson
13 Apr 14:01

his daughters, peggy, angelica, eliza sneak into the city just to watch all the geysers

14 Apr 15:38

Unusual Miss America Talents

by Sarah Marshall

1949: Water ballet (Patricia Cunningham, IN).

1955: Comic monologue of a novice golfer titled “What Do I Do Now, Mr. McLeod?” (Beth Andre, AZ); speech on how to pack a suitcase (Carol Jennette, MD).

1956: Dramatic sketch titled “A Dream: Faith Over Atheistic Sciences” (Joan Beckett, CA).

1957: Organ medley including “Tea for Two” (Marilyn Van Derbur, CO); rodeo exhibition (June Prichard, TX); trampoline and tumbling to the theme from The Third Man (Amanda Whitman, TN).

1959: Original dramatic interpretation of a beatnik (Beverly Ann Domareki, NJ); vocal impersonation of Maurice Chevalier (Elizabeth Holmes, NY); speech on fashion designing and tractor driving (Diana Klug, CT); character dance to “Tequila” (Jacqueline Winterrose, UT).

1960: Impression of a young hillbilly girl at a major league baseball game (Ann Susan Barber, NJ).

1961: Tap dance to recorded version of her own voice singing “Somebody Loves Me” (Maria Fletcher, NC); dramatic reading of “The Yellow Wallpaper” (LaVerda Garrison, ID); dramatic interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount (Karen Scalise, CT).

1965: Dramatic reading of “The Hazards of Nuclear Fallout” (Mabel Bendiksen, MA).

1966: Original song titled “I’m in a Pageant!” (Vicki Hurd, TN).

1969: Original comedy monologue titled “Interview with Cleopatra, Shirley Temple and Tiny Tim” (Kathleen Ennis, AZ); acrobatic ballet to theme from Exodus (Marilyn Allen, AR).

1973: Ballet roller skating to Swan Lake (Ellen Meade, FL).

1974: Gymnastics dance to the theme from Midnight Cowboy (Cynthia Erb, NH).

1976: Vibes solo of “Bandstand Boogie” (Karen Land, CO); organ medley including “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (Theme From the Coke Commercial)” (RaNae Peterson, ID).

1977: The theme from The Beverly Hillbillies on banjo (Julie Houston, AL).

1981: Ventriloquist interpretation of Laverne & Shirley (Angelina Johnson, TN).

1982: Rifle-twirling routine to a Herzegovinian March (Laura Matthys, OR); baton twirling to theme from Magnum, P.I. (Gale Lee Thomas, HI); gymnastics dance to the theme from CHiPs (Jill Qyckoff, VT).

1987: Marimba interpretation of “Hava Nagila” (Aurelie McCarthy, MA).

1989: Freestyle rollerskating to “Amazing Grace” (Tammy Kettunen, AZ).

1992: Flute Solo of the theme from Star Wars (Shannon Boy, AR).

1993: Flute solo of “Dueling Banjos” (Elizabeth Mosely, OK); character ballet to “Turkey in the Straw” (Lisa Michelle Duncan, CA).

1995: Vocal and puppetry to “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King (Amy Ciccolella, CO).

1998: Acro-jazz dance to the “Stampede!” from The Lion King (Stephanie Stanley, ME); “Yankee Doodle” on electric violin (Katie Millar, UT).

2007: Irish step dance to “Dueling Violins” and “Footloose” (Maggie Ireland, CO).

2010: Clogging to “Soul Man” (Adrienne Core, NC); ventriloquism/vocal “I Want to be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” (Alyse Eady, AR); tap dance to “9 to 5” (Melaina Shipwash, CO).

2011: Jump rope routine to theme from Hawaii Five-O (Lauren Cheape, HI); ballet en pointe to the theme from Superman (Katharyn Nicolle, NJ).

 

Previously: Your 2021 Miss America Baby Name Guide.

Sarah Marshall would probably make a list as her talent if she ever competed at Miss America, or maybe organize a closet a la Corky Sherwood.

Photo by sportgraphic, via Shutterstock

11 Apr 18:01

Hamilton: [about Jefferson] It's ok, he doesn't have any feelings. Racists don't have feelings. They're subhuman.

Hamilton: [about Jefferson] It's ok, he doesn't have any feelings. Racists don't have feelings. They're subhuman.
10 Apr 20:03

"OCEANS RISE. CITIES FALL. HOPE SURVIVES. WOW."

“OCEANS RISE. CITIES FALL. HOPE SURVIVES. WOW.”

- King George III