Banned books panel at Exeter Library

23 November 2023

2023 marked twenty years since the repeal of Section 28, a law which prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities. Introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government in 1988, the law profoundly shaped public access to books with LGBTQ+ themes. It had a profound impact on the lives of queer people, perhaps especially children and adolescents, living in Britain in late 1980s to the early 21st century.

This panel reflected on the impact of Section 28 and will situate the law in historical and contemporary contexts, discussing the social consequences when books are censored, banned, and repressed due to their allegedly ‘harmful’, ‘dangerous’ or ‘obscene’ contents.


Callum Elliott-Archer has been the Centre Manager of Exeter Library since 2020, and is keen to establish the building as a true community and cultural hub. Born in Coventry but moved to Exeter in 2007, he considers Devon his home.

Jana Funke is Associate Professor of English and Sexuality Studies at the University of Exeter. She has just finished co-editing (with Hannah Roche) the first ever critical edition of Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness (Oxford University Press, 2024).

D-M Withers is a Lecturer in Publishing at the University of Exeter and Director of Lurid Editions, who will publish a new edition of David Rees’s Young Adult novel, The Milkman’s On His Way, censored during Section 28, in June 2024.