Tory Leader Apologizes for Anti-Gay Law

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday July 2, 2009

David Cameron issued an apology to UK's gay and lesbian citizens for a Thatcher-era law that banned the use of taxpayer money for any classroom "promotion" of gays and lesbians as normal and referred to gay and lesbian families as "pretend" families.

A July 2 article at the U newspaper The Daily Mail reported that Cameron, the leader of the Tory party, made his apology for Section 28 in an address at a fund raising event meant to benefit both Pride and the Tories, and sought to portray the conservative Tory party as a diverse political organization.

Saying the Tories had "got it wrong" in passing the anti-gay law, Cameron looked forward to gays and lesbians becoming a greater part of the conservative party.

Said Cameron, "If five years ago we had a Conservative and Gay Pride party, I don't think many gay people would have come or many Conservatives would have come."

Cameron went on to say, "In wanting to make the party representative of the country, I think we have made some real progress.

"If we do win the next election," said Cameron, "instead of being a white middle-class, middle-aged party, rather like me really, we will be far more diverse."

Indeed, Cameron noted that, "The Conservatives had the first woman prime minister," and predicted that, "we are bound to have the first black prime minister and the first gay prime minister."

The law was approved in 1988, during the AIDS crisis, and had a chilling effect on teachers addressing social issues relating to GLBTs. The law banned "promoting the teaching... of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship."

The passage of the law prompted the creation of Stonewall, the UK's largest GLBT equality organization, which was co-founded by openly gay actor Sir Ian McKellen.

The law was in place until 2003, but in the 15 years the law was on the books no prosecutions were ever brought forward for violations, the Daily Mail noted.

Far-right Tories denounced Cameron's address. One Tory, Lord Tebbit, declared, "I certainly don't think Section 28 is something the Tory party should be apologizing form" reported the article.

"I would say this apology is about focus group findings," added Lord Tebbit.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.