LGBT+ community equality and rights brought into sharp focus

Sheffield needs to deal head on with controversial subjects sooner rather than later.

By Chrissy Meleady MBE
Thursday, 30 May, 2019, 11:08
LGBT+ Pride March in 2018

I am getting increasingly approached by groups of parents asking me to support their ‘right’ as parents, to have LGBT+ inclusivity stopped in schools, arising from their stand that their religious beliefs should and must take precedence over the rights and protections of LGBT+ people and same-sex families.

In response, I tell them that for decades now, I have been condemned and at times threatened and vilified, even to this present day, for being the first person to challenge Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative Government in 1988 in respect of Section 28 and for my endorsement of LGBT equality and rights, inclusive of LGBT+ inclusivity.

Do I ever regret my stand and the actions taken?

No, I do not, because it was and is the right thing to do.

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Under the Local Government Act 1988, the then Government, added Section 28 to the Local Government Act 1986, stating that a local authority "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.”

Local Authority legal staff in many areas of the UK, were wary of breaching the Act and sizeable numbers issued directives of a punitive nature, which, due to issues of and influence at the time, resulted in a diminution in services and support, as many groups supporting lesbian, gay and bi-sexual people and same-sex families were closed down or threatened with closure and censorship.

With the advent of the Equality Act 2010 came the offer of legal protection for people against discrimination, harassment and victimisation in the workplace and wider society, based on nine protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. It is only right that the education secretary, Damian Hinds, should make it clear to parents that headteachers and their schools who adhere to Equality law are backed by central Government, otherwise we are on the slip slide to overtly discriminatory days like those in the 1980’s, in which LGBT+ people and same-sex families were targeted, victimised and treated abominably.