LGBT+ History Month has returned and, up and down the country, LGBTQ+ people and allies are coming together under the rainbow flag in February.
There has never been greater visibility for queer people, so the month is an opportunity to celebrate this.
But it hasn’t always been this way.
From 1988 to 2003 a law existed which affected LGBT+ people, called Section 28.
Here’s what you need to know about it.
What is Section 28?
In 1988, the Conservative government passed a law that stopped councils and schools “promoting the teaching of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.
Gay and lesbian people in the UK were at the time demanding equality, to the dismay of traditionalists.
The law was inspired by the 1983 book Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin, which tried to give children information about different types of family relationships.
“Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay,” Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister at the time, said.
“All of those children are being cheated of a sound start in life.”
The law deprived generations of LGBT students of the opportunity to see people like them in books, plays, leaflets, or films that would be shown at school.
LGBTQ+ documentaries you need to watch
Teachers weren’t allowed to teach about same-sex relationships and anyone who broke the law could face disciplinary action.
The effects were horrendous and anti-LGBT bullying and homophobic slurs were rife.
At a time when gay people were struggling with the Aids epidemic, it was a cruel attempt to suppress a marginalised group.
However, it also inspired one of the most successful civil rights movements in British history.
How was Section 28 abolished?
The campaign against Section 28 led to the creation of Stonewall, an organisation that fights for the freedom, equity and potential of LGBTQ+ people everywhere.
There were huge protests by LGBT+ campaigners and the law was scrapped in Scotland in 2000 and in 2003 in the rest of the UK.
The repeal billâ¯received royal assent on September 18, 2003.
“Its removal is hugely important because it is totemic ... It was deliberately designed to stigmatise and demean three million people,” said Benâ¯Summerskill, Chief Executive of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights charity Stonewall at the time.
Thirty years after the law was made, the woman largely responsible for introducing it, Baroness Jill Knight, said she was sorry if it hurt anyone and that her intention had been the “wellbeing of children”.
In 2009, the then-Tory leader, David Cameron, who had previously backed the law, apologised for its introduction. He described it as a “mistake” that was “offensive to gay people”.
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