30 years on: warnings over homophobic legacy of Section 28
On 24 May 1988 (30 years ago) a law was introduced in England which banned “the promotion of homosexuality”.
Section 28 of the Local Government Act impacted sex education in schools, and also caused confusion over the legality of funding initiatives for lesbian, gay or transgender people.
It was greeted by huge opposition protests across the country – with Manchester seeing around 25,000 people take to the streets.
Tony Openshaw was one of those who spoke at a mass rally opposing Section 28 in Manchester in 1988.
He says the legislation felt “like a backwards step” – with the ostracism he and his partner faced being symptomatic of a homophobic turn in parts of society.
My parents disowned me. I missed everything. I think they only talked to me two or three times in the last 35 years.
I didn’t get invited to my mother’s 90th birthday, at all. My partner who died 7 years ago, nobody attended his funeral from my family, so I’ve missed out on a lot of things.
Section 28 was repealed in 2003, but a charity is warning that the hostile atmosphere towards the LGBT community which inspired such legislation left a whole generation of people more vulnerable to social isolation.
Research by Age UK shows that older LGBT people are especially vulnerable to loneliness as they are more likely to be single, live alone, and have lower levels of contact with relatives.
Age UK Manchester runs a support group for people from the LGBT+ community in Manchester.
Part of their aim is to address the challenged which people growing up in certain generations faced when coming out to family or wider society.