Anti-gay Section 28 to be repealed

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The notorious Section 28 - the law banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools - is finally to be repealed.

When the issue comes before the Lords' Grand Committee at the beginning of this week, the Tories will drop their opposition to repeal.

Instead peers will be asked to back a number of compromises, one to give parents the right to scrutinise any sex education materials used in schools and one requiring the Government to draw up a code of practice for local authorities.

Both Labour and the Tories have given peers a free vote on the issue. There is also a new softness in the Tory position, amounting almost to an acceptance that the Government will have its way and repeal Section 28.

But, though Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory leader, voted in favour of keeping Section 28 when it came before the Commons earlier this year, the criticism that followed - and the paltry support the move received when just 77 MPs voted for its retention - has persuaded him to take a more conciliatory approach.

The shift will be welcomed by Tory modernisers who were dismayed at the party's continued support for a piece of legislation that has alienated the gay community for years.

Sources in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister - the department responsible for the Local Government Bill - were hopeful that their proposals will go through. The first time the move came before Parliament, in 1999, it was rejected and did not form part of the Local Government Act 2000.

One said: "Generally it seems that in terms of media and opposition this has been much less of an issue this time around so we are hopeful it will be repealed. However, there are people who remain deeply opposed to what we are trying to do."

The Government position remains unchanged. "It is an unnecessary piece of legislation which many people find deeply offensive. We believe it should be repealed," the source said.