Socialist Worker

Labour bows to house of bigots

Issue No. 1683

What we think

Labour bows to house of bigots

A VICTORY for bigotry, scored by a bunch of unelected and unrepresentative Tories and bishops. That is the reality of the House of Lords vote to keep the anti-gay Section 28 of the Local Government Act on Monday evening. The House of Lords was supposed to be reformed by New Labour. Yet a collection of 92 mostly Tory hereditary peers, and 26 bishops, voted to keep a law that means many teenagers will still face the agony of anti-gay bullying.

The right wing press screamed their delight. "Praise Be To The Lords" ran the Daily Mail headline. The Tory peer leading the "defence" of Section 28, Lady Young, claimed that she was trying to "protect children". Yet keeping Section 28 does the opposite. It leaves teachers feeling they cannot talk about issues of sexuality, and it fosters hatred in wider society. Some 70 percent of 18 to 24 year olds in a recent survey said they thought Section 28 should be scrapped. The Tory peers and bishops, and 15 Labour lords, say they represent the "silent majority".

This is rubbish. None of them were elected. They represent no one. It's a ludicrous idea that Lords Aberdare, Brazabon of Tara, Eccles of Moulton, Platt of Writtle, Willoughby de Broke and assorted bishops have anything sensible to say about how people live their lives. Their view that there should be no sex outside marriage bears no relation to reality for most people. Today four out of ten children are born outside marriage. Are they to be made to feel stigmatised, along with gay and lesbian pupils? New Labour is now saying it will put back repeal of Section 28 until after the next general election.

The government should not give in to the Lords-with an inbuilt Tory majority in a country that voted to kick them out at the last general election. The hereditary peers only exist because Tony Blair fudged Lords reform after his pal Lord Chancellor Derry Irvine did a deal with the Tory lords. We should demand New Labour stands up to the bigots, gets rid of Section 28 now, and closes down the "upper house".


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News
Sat 12 Feb 2000, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1683
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