Conservative leader David Cameron says his party was wrong to support Section 28 – a law banning local authorities from promoting homosexuality in schools.
Section 28 was introduced in the 1980s to protect children from inappropriate resources being pushed by councils controlled by what was dubbed at the time ‘the loony left’. It has since been repealed.
Speaking at a Conservative fundraiser to mark a gay pride event taking place in London this weekend, Mr Cameron told guests that his party’s attitudes towards ‘gay rights’ had changed.
He said: “Yes, we may have sometimes been slow and yes, we may have made mistakes, including Section 28, but the change has happened.”
He went on to say: “One of the things I was most proud of doing was standing up at that first party conference and saying commitment to marriage was an important thing whether it’s between a man and a woman, a man and a man or a woman and a woman.
“I am proud I said it and I am proud of my party for supporting me.”
In May it was reported that courting ‘gay rights’ groups would be one of Mr Cameron’s top five priorities over the coming months, “to show that ‘new Toryism’ is still alive and kicking”.
It has since emerged that the Conservative Party conference is to include a ‘Conservative Pride’ homosexual event for the first time this year.
Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of influential gay lobby group Stonewall, spoke after Mr Cameron at the event.
He said Mr Cameron’s speech was “historic”, and added: “We have heard the leader of the Conservative Party say the words ‘Section 28’ and ‘sorry’.”
Section 28 was introduced as part of the 1988 Local Government Act because some local authorities were intentionally promoting homosexuality in schools and youth groups, often through classroom resources.
Public bodies were banned from spending money on promoting homosexuality, though legitimate discussion of the subject and counselling for children were never prohibited.
In 2000 Glasgow City Council was taken to court for breaching Section 28 by funding a homosexual group that was distributing pornographic images to schoolchildren under the guise of ‘sexual health education’.
Section 28 was repealed in 2003, and the Government is currently planning measures in its new Equality Bill which could see public bodies, including schools, forced to promote homosexuality.