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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, May 24

Jim Burroway

May 24th, 2014

Alkmaar

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Events This Weekend: Alkmaar, Netherlands; Birmingham, UK; Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL (Bear Pride); Eskilstuna, Sweden; Kerry, Ireland; Maspalomas, Gran Canaria; Melbourne, FL; Pensacola, FL; Puerto Vallarta, JAL; Washington, DC (Black Pride); Winnipeg, MB.

Other Events This Weekend: Harvey Milk Day Events, various locations across the U.S.; International Mr. Leather, Chicago, IL; AIDS Walk, Honolulu, HI; Matinee, Las Vegas, NV; BUPA London 10,000, London, UK (Monday); KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, Mumbai, India; Great Plains Rodeo, Oklahoma City, OK; Inside Out Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, ON.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Parlee, July 1975, page 26.

 
The Hamptons on Long Island used to be quite the summertime gay hot-spot in the 1970s, but rising real estate prices pushed the younger party-goers to Fire Island and left the Hamptons to older, more affluent gay couples who aren’t up for partying until 4:00 a.m. A 2003 New York Times profile of the gay Hamptons reported, “Today there is no gay bar anywhere between Southampton and Montauk, and the gay Hamptons have become a staid place where people socialize over dinner and talk of kitchen renovations and children’s play dates. The area’s gay population has grown older, richer and more coupled-up.” The last gay bar became a straight bar in 2001 when the owners decided they could make more money that way.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Pat Buchanan Declares AIDS “Awful Retribution”: 1983. “The sexual revolution has begun to devour its children,” proclaimed Pat Buchanan in a New York Post op-ed that was relayed in newspapers across America. “And among the revolutionary vanguard, the Gay Rights activists, the mortality rate is higher and climbing.”

By 1983, the known AIDS epidemic was about to reach its two-year mark. A general panic was spreading in the gay community, and a general backlash was brewing everywhere else. Buchanan fueled that backlash with this op-ed, warning that no homosexual should be permitted to handle food. He also warned that the Democratic party’s decision to hold their 1984 convention in San Francisco would leave their delegates wives and children at the mercy of “homosexuals who belong to a community that is a common carrier of dangerous, communicable and sometimes fatal diseases.” And he attributed all of it to divine retribution with his now-infamous money-quote: “The poor homosexuals… they have declared war upon nature, and now nature is exacting an awful retribution.”

Buchanan had a flair for the dramatic turn of the phrase, having served as an opposition researcher and speechwriter for President Richard Nixon. He would go on to become communications director for the Reagan White House from 1985 to 1987. In 1992, as Buchanan ran for the Republican nomination for President, he again called AIDS “nature’s retribution for violating the laws of nature in many ways” (see Feb 27). His speech before the Republican National Convention later that summer brought the term “culture war” to a nationwide audience.

Britain Enacts Section 28: 1988. When Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party swept into Government in 1979, it brought with it sweeping changes throughout Britain touching on all levels of society. With “Thatcherism” came a wholesale transformation of the economy, widespread cuts in social programs, open warfare with trade unions, and a retrenchment on a wide range of social issues including homosexuality. British society’s attitudes towards gay people hardened further during the early 1980s as AIDS began to take root in the U.K.

But in areas in which either the Labour or Liberal Party held sway, gay rights activists were able to get a number of local councils to include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination policies. The Greater London Council authorized several grants between 1981 and 1984 to local gay groups and the London Lesbian and Gay Community Centre in Islington, and in 1985, the Labour Party called for an end to all legal discrimination against gays and lesbians. When the Daily Mail, in its characteristic alarmist fashion, discovered the book  Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin by the Danish author Susanne Bösche in a school library, all hell broke loose.

On December 2, 1987, Conservative MP David Wilshire responded to the outcry with a proposed amendment to the Local Government Act to prohibit local authorities from “promoting homosexuality” or teaching “the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship” in schools. The clause which later became known as Section 28, was inserted at the committee stage on December 7, debated in Committee on December 8, and was adopted by the full House of Commons on December 15. The House of Lords approved it the following spring, and the law took effect on May 24, 1988.

The law had its intended effect. Where local governments had previously allowed gay groups to meet on government property and libraries to keep LGBT publications, many now were reluctant to do so. It also had an unintended effect: Section 28 almost singlehandedly revived the gay rights movement on a national scale. Ian McKellen came out on the BBC and helped to found Stonewall, while Peter Tatchell established OutRage!, and the two spent the next decade campaigning against Section 28. In 1997, Labour was swept back into Government in a landslide victory, but the first two legislative attempts to repeal Section 28, both in 2000, were defeated in the House of Lords. After another Labour landslide in the 2001 elections, opponents of Section 28 made another run at repeal again. in 2003. This time it was successful, and the repeal went into effect on November 18, 2003.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Comments

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FYoung
May 24th, 2014 | LINK

Thanks for the history bits. I had forgotten the genesis of Section 28.

tavdy79
May 24th, 2014 | LINK

Re. section 28, that insidious piece of legislation casts a long shadow in British state-funded schools. The wording of the law was vague in defining what “promotion” of homosexuality meant, and as a result many head teachers were pressured to introduce rules which effectively barred teachers from intervening in homophobic and transphobic bullying, because confronting such bullying might be viewed as “promoting” homosexuality.

However when section 28 was repealed many county councils (mostly Tory-run) and head teachers simply ignored it since the change in the law didn’t require them to change any policies – no longer being required to discriminate didn’t meant they weren’t still permitted to. This gradually resulted in a patchwork of progressive schools that had abandoned section 28, and regressive ones which had kept it within their school policies.

An explicit ban on discrimination on the basis of orientation, which included discrimination at school, came in with an amendment to the 2006 Equality Act, passed a few months after the Act itself. Because the legislation was passed as secondary legislation, many councils “forgot” to ensure that head teachers were made aware of the legislation, knowing it could be excused as an “oversight” rather than a deliberate act. Likewise, many head teachers were fully aware of the legislation but chose not to do anything until their council bosses forced them to. This seems to have been a particular problem with secular schools. A large number of schools in England are co-run by the Church of England, and CofE schools mostly seem to have implemented the changes fairly quickly. My assumption is that this is because the CofE is sensitive to accusations of homophobia in a way that the UK’s local and national governments aren’t.

As a result there are still many schools with section 28-era policies.

Stephen
May 24th, 2014 | LINK

tavdy and Jim, interesting about section 28. We moved to the States long before it was implemented but I must say that I find myself puzzled. I attended a public school and it was awash in homosexual romance. I never encountered anything remotely like the bullying that I hear about now. I can only suppose that state schools were different.

Eric Payne
May 24th, 2014 | LINK

I have a question. Was/Is it only private schools in Great Britain that are permitted to be specific to gender, or are/were some state schools boys- or girls-only?

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