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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 296 > ECHOES of HATRED and PAIN

ECHOES of HATRED and PAIN

Section 28 was the most vicious piece of anti-gay legislation of modern times. Three decades after it became law — and despite its repeal in 2003 — LGBT+ people are still feeling its effects

Thirty years ago this month, Section 28, the most anti-gay piece of legislation of modern times, became law amid a tsunami of fear and hatred. By the mid 1980s, several years after the first reports of a disease then referred to as Gay Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome (GRID), because it was said to affect mainly gay and bisexual men, the UK was in a state of panic.

Instead of calmly educating the public about how we could all protect ourselves from HIV, and what became known as Aids, the right-wing media poured petrol on to the fire, pointing the finger of blame at gay men, to create support for the party of traditional moral values.

In 1986, a year before a general election, The Sun, then edited by Kelvin MacKenzie, plastered a book over its front page that it claimed left-wing councils were pushing on young children.

The story bore the headline “VILE BOOK IN SCHOOLS”.

Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin was a sweet, Danish teaching aide that depicted a young girl living with her two gay dads.

MacKenzie’s dog whistle message was that Labour, who the year before had committed to LGB rights, supported paedophilia.

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