PM vows to repeal anti-gay law in schools

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The Independent Online

Controversial rules banning schools and libraries from promoting homosexuality will be repealed, the Prime Minister's spokesman insisted last night.

Controversial rules banning schools and libraries from promoting homosexuality will be repealed, the Prime Minister's spokesman insisted last night.

The promised repeal of Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act had been expected in this autumn's Queen's Speech, but revised plans are being laid amid fears that peers could vote against it.

Mr Blair's spokesman confirmed plans to abandon the rule after an announcement that it was to be abolished in Scotland early next year. "We would look to repeal it at the first opportunity or at a suitable opportunity. I think the precise way in which that will be taken forward is still being decided," he said.

Gay rights campaigners and local authorities say Section 28 causes fear among teachers even though it has never been used. They say that staff feel unable to reassure gay teenagers who come to them for advice.

But officials are anxious that government business could be held up if the House of Lords refuses to pass the move. One option would be to ask a backbench MP to propose the measure as it would then be easier to drop if problems arose. A measure to lower the age of consent to 16 for gay men will also return to the Upper House in the next session after being rejected earlier this year.

Donald Dewar, Scottish First Minister, said the ban would be removed soon. "It has become a badge of shame in some ways, in the eyes of a very important part of our community."