… 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”…
Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 was a controversial amendment to the UK’s
Local Government Act 1986, enacted on 24 May 1988 and repealed on 21 June 2000 in
Scotland, and on 18 November 2003 in the rest of the UK by section 122 of the Local
Government Act 2003.
The amendment stated 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
Some people believed that Section 28 prohibited local councils from distributing any
material, whether plays, leaflets, books, etc, that portrayed gay relationships as anything
other than abnormal. Teachers and educational staff in some cases were afraid of
discussing gay issues with students for fear of losing state funding.
Because it did not create a criminal offence, no prosecution was ever brought under this
provision, but its existence caused many groups to close or limit their activities or selfcensor.
For example, a number of lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual student support
groups in schools and colleges across Britain were closed due to fears by council legal staff
that they could breach the Act.
Section 28 became law on 24 May 1988. The night before, several protests were staged
by lesbian women, including abseiling into Parliament and a famous invasion of the BBC’s
Six O’Clock News, during which one woman managed to chain herself to Sue Lawley’s
desk and was sat on by Nicholas Witchell.
Section 28 wasn’t repealed until 2003.