Benedict, Claire D, and Rebecca F discuss the repeal of Section 28 in 2003.



It was a mighty day when Section 28 was repealed, not just for its practical effects. As I say, in all sorts of ways, its practical effects rumbled on for many years and perhaps still do. Also, it was always a kind of toothless piece of legislation anyway, it was never quite clear what would happen if you broke it. So, in a sense, in direct practical terms, the repeal was not so consequential. But symbolically, it really mattered. Symbolically, it mattered enormously to think that… well to think that really for the first time in my kind of conscious life, any relationship that I might have with another man would not be thought of as a “pretend” relationship that was so obnoxious that it couldn’t possibly safely be discussed in front of children. To live with that awareness that that is what at least a substantial portion of your society, including many of the people who pass laws on your behalf, believed to be the case is overwhelmingly awful.

Claire D


At the time I don’t think I put anything down to Section 28 cause I just didn’t have the awareness of it. But it definitely impacted on my entire schooling. I think it’s great that we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of its repeal. But repealing a piece of legislation doesn’t enact change. And I would say that I did the entirety of my schooling under Section 28, even though it was repealed whilst I was in secondary school. Because it’s not as if my teachers, or anywhere else in the local education authority or local government, reacted to the drop of the legislation by enacting visible change. So even though it was repealed in 2003, I would say that it lasted throughout my, like, compulsory education, which lasted until 2005, and beyond into my higher education – further education, higher education.

Rebecca F


On the one hand, it clearly mattered both symbolically, and that this had a really big impact on teachers, putting teachers in a very vulnerable position and any prospect around education and so on. And it’s kind of symbolic because it was such a focus of activity. On the other hand, it does seem to me that it needed more than just repeal. That we still don’t have – you know, there was a space for – something positive needed to go in its place, in terms of an education policy and a kind of promotion of equality, or whatever it might be, needed to go in its place. And that simply repealing left a kind of gap which is now being exploited by people who are trying to again make legislation around trans issues in schools and so on, which exploits this absence of that kind of commitment to equality, and absence of a commitment to inclusion and to positivity. So, we got rid of something really bad, but that just left a sort of gap, where there should have – something positive should’ve been put in its place.