This Pride month, we’re gearing up for a fight. As we battle over “Don’t Say Gay” bills in the US today, we’re looking back to the 1980s to see how a similar legal effort played out in the United Kingdom. No one was ever successfully prosecuted under Section 28, but that doesn’t mean it was harmless.
Content note: This episode contains in-depth discussion of homophobia and transphobia in the recent past and today. I’m also going to have to throw an explicit label on this episode just to be safe since we do go over some of the technical details of legal debate over the Buggery Act and more recent debates over obscenity and sex education.
Featured image: An activist is removed from the BBC studios after invading the building and interrupting a broadcast to protest Clause 28. You can find the full video below.
The infamous page from Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin showing the family eating breakfast in bed.
Activists who invaded the BBC studio in the 1980s explain their action in interviews (with the BBC!) years after the repeal of Section 28.
A teacher explains the impact of Section 28 on her life and career and what happened to her colleagues.
After the passage of the law, actor Ian McKellen uses his platform to advocate for its repeal. The part about Nicholas Mitchell sitting on women refers to the BBC studio invasion explained in the first video in this post.
The fight over Section 28 might be over, but OutRage! and Stonewall continue fighting discrimination locally and internationally. This is a protest in 2011 of a pub that ejected a gay couple for kissing in public. (Image source)
Also from 2011, here’s supporters of Stonewall marching in a London Pride event. (Image source)
On Section 28 and other UK laws01235
- Outrageous!: The Story of Section 28 and Britain’s Battle for LGBT Education
- The Buggery Act 1533
- Law and Oppression
Gay rights movement
The Gay Liberation Movement
- A Timeline of HIV and AIDS
How LGBTQ Groups Supported Striking Miners vs. Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher’s policies hit the poor hardest – and it’s happening again
When lesbian activists invaded BBC TV news broadcast – BBC Stories
- Section 28 (2A in Scotland) 1988-2000
Former Tory whip David Wilshire paid £100,000 to his own firm
Factsheet: Sexuality timeline in the Church of England
On modern “Don’t Say Gay” legislation
- What You Need to Know about Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Law
Not just Florida. More than a dozen states propose so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bills