Lesgay Humanist

Winter 1987-1988

John Jackson, a committee member of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, outlines the serious implications proposed new legislation has for lesbian and gay rights and makes a plea for action.

Clause 27

by John Jackson

No doubt many readers will already have heard about the amendment recently inserted into the Local Government Bill by right-wing Conservative MP David Wilshire. This amendment, known as “Clause 27”, aims to restrain local authorities from “promoting” homosexuality. In itself this does not sound too ominous, until one realises that the term “promotion” is totally undefined within the context of the Bill. In other words it will be up to the judiciary to interpret “promotion” entirely as they wish.

Countless anti-gay outbursts from judges in the past leave few lesbians and gays in any doubt that this bill presents a serious threat to our civil liberties.

To confirm such fears, research undertaken by lesbian, gay and civil libertarian groups during the past month has uncovered some horrifying implications of Clause 27.

For instance, one consequence would almost certainly be compulsory negative treatment by local authorities of any and all lesbian and gay matters. Any non-negative approach may be challenged as “promotion” in the sense of being positive. Therefore, if a social or befriending group approaches a local council for the use of a local community centre maintained by the council, its request will be refused. If a lesbian or gay man asks to borrow a book by a known gay author from a library, the reply will be “sorry, we can’t stock it”.

Worse still, if lesbian or gay teenagers, with great courage, approach school counsellors for unprejudiced information and positive advice about their sexuality, they will be turned away, for the provision of such counselling may lead to the prosecution of a local authority by a prejudiced parent.

Clause 27 is also likely to endanger our pub and disco scene, as it is up to local councils to grant music licences to such venues (in contrast to liquor licences which are granted by magistrates) and with the gradual breakup of the lesbian and gay commercial scene, the advertising income of the lesgay community’s press (Gay Times, Gay Life, etc.) would be diminished. Thus, within a few years, we would have no news media by which to maintain our status as a community by exchanging ideas and opinions with each other in our collective battle against discrimination. This would leave us divided, isolated and totally vulnerable.

So what can you do to help fight this clause?

First, write to, or telephone, your MP at the House of Commons, stressing your horror at the probable implications of the clause (feel free to quote from this article if you wish) stating your disgust at the discriminatory treatment of homosexuals.

The address of the House of Commons is simply London SW1A 0AA and the number to phone is 01-219-3000. If your MP is unavailable leave your message with his/her secretary and remember you don’t have to say you’re gay. If you don’t feel confident enough to be “out”, don’t worry. Your MP has no business enquiring into your private life and is unlikely to do so.

Secondly, the Bill will be reaching its Committee Stage in the House of Lords (when any possible amendments to the clause must be proposed and discussed) towards the end of January. It is important to lobby the Lords and explain our concerns to them, but this must be done with care, and advice and tactics should be sought. The following organisations are able to advise you on this: The Association of London Authorities (ALA), tel. 01-222-7799 (ask for the Lesbian and Gay Officer) and the Organisation for Lesbian and Gay Action (OLGA), tel. 01-833-3860/3912.

URI of this page : http://www.pinktriangle.org.uk/glh/72/clause27.html
Created : Sunday, 2003-03-09 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
Brett Humphreys : webster@pinktriangle.org.uk