Some claim that the 1980s in Britain marked the beginning of a regression in attitudes and a backwards step in society. Amidst this the LGBTQ+ people of the UK were loudly demanding equality. Part of the Conservative Government’s response to this was the introduction of Section 28. Section 28 was a series of laws across Britain that prohibited the "promotion of homosexuality" by local authorities and more specifically the promotion of homosexuality in schools. Section 28 was introduced by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Government, and it was in effect from 1988 to 2003. The Government pushed this set of laws at it aligned with the Party’s view that conventional family values and Christian beliefs needed to be re-established. Section 28 saw all educational bodies banned from talking about Homosexuality in a positive way. It became illegal over night to teach students about safe sex for gay men and women, to speak openly about healthy gay relationships or to converse any mental health support that may be available. This set of laws would essentially alienate LGBTQ+ people, and lead to them feeling more and more like the “other”.
One background event that allowed the passage of this legislation was the AIDS epidemic. The AIDS epidemic was publicised widely and negatively. The Mail on Sunday dubbed the AIDS virus as a ‘gay virus plague’, and The Sun ran a story headlined “I’d shoot my son if he has AIDS, Says Vicar”. This type of harmful coverage of the epidemic influenced the electorate. In 1987, the year before the introduction of Section 28, only 11% of people thought that same sex relationships were ‘not wrong at all’, and in 1989, the year after the introduction of Section 28, this number stood at 14%. Furthermore, the Conservative Government had a mandate to enact this kind of legislation as the Party’s 1987 General Election Manifesto claimed that ‘In certain cases education [was] used for political indoctrination and sexual propaganda.’ This mandate coupled with the electorates’ clear stance on same-sex relationships tipped the balance in the Conservatives’ favour and allowed section 28 to be carried forward and passed.
However, LGBTQ+ Activists did respond and make their views known. On the 23rd of May 1988, the evening before section 28 came into force, lesbian activists stormed the BBC News studio where Sue Lawley was midway through the Six O’clock News. Booan Temple, one the six who stormed the Six O’clock news later criticised British attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community and Section 28, claiming that,
“I, and many of my loved ones, had been attacked in the street. There was an atmosphere that ‘the other’ needed to be eradicated and I think the LGBT community was seen as a threat to the institution of the family. Section 28 was part of that”.