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Ian McKellen fears a return of Thatcher-era law banning “promotion of homosexuality”

Ian McKellen fears a return of Thatcher-era law banning “promotion of homosexuality”

The U.K. government may soon have its own version of '"Don't Say Gay" in schools.

By John Russell Thursday, September 14, 2023

Out actor Sir Ian McKellen says he fears a return of a 1980’s law banning “promotion of homosexuality” in schools in the United Kingdom.

Laws modeled on Florida’s infamous Parental Rights in Education Act — commonly known as “Don’t Say Gay” laws — have been passed in states across the U.S. to restrict and, in many cases, ban discussion of gender and sexuality in schools. But the U.K. had its own version of “Don’t Say Gay” not so long ago.

Introduced by Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1988, Section 28 banned the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities, including schools. The law was repealed in Scotland in 2000 and in England and Wales in 2003.

McKellen has said that his decision to come out as gay in 1988 was directly related to his opposition to Section 28. The 83-year-old Tony and Golden Globe-winning actor has since become an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights around the world.

But in a new interview with Attitude, McKellen said that he is beginning to fear the introduction of restrictions that echo those in Section 28.

When asked if he feared a return of the law, McKellen said, “If you’d asked me that six hours ago, I’d have said no, I don’t.”

But, he explained, he has spoken with one member of the U.K.’s center-left Labor Party who says that restrictions on how schools can address gender may be on the way.

“I talked to Michael Cashman. He says things aren’t looking good, and that there are going to be restrictions on discussions about gender which you may or may not have. Which is to disadvantage trans people,” McKellen said.

Under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the U.K. government has been considering new guidance that would ban social transitioning in schools and force school officials to out trans and nonbinary students to their parents. Earlier this month, Sunak was said to be considering dropping the plan, though no decision has been announced.

“If they think they’re going to get votes by doing that,” McKellan said of the proposed anti-trans guidance, “I think they’re sadly mistaken.”

Critics have said that the proposed guidance flies in the face of LGBTQ+ protections under the U.K.’s Equality Act. As Attitude notes, under the 2010 law, U.K. schools are required to ensure that students do not face anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.

“I hope it’s too late now, and that schools have reversed and follow the law. And do not discriminate on the grounds of sexuality. That’s the law of the land,” McKellen said. “But I suppose that law could be tweaked. And that would be dreadful.”

The Lord of the Rings star described visiting schools in recent years and being encouraged by the level of acceptance of LGBTQ+ people.

“I think governments who will now try to change things, put things in reverse will find it very difficult,” he said. “I think there would be revolution in the streets, frankly.”



2 librarians were fired after the board mistook an autism symbol for a Pride display. They’re suing.

The display featured two rainbow images that were actually about disabilities.

By Daniel Villarreal Thursday, September 14, 2023

Two former librarians of the Sterling Free Public Library in Sterling, Kansas have filed a lawsuit claiming they were fired over a June library display featuring a rainbow symbol that was mistaken for a Pride Month display.

The library’s board fired library director Kari Wheeler and assistant librarian Brandy Lancaster on July 5 after library employee Ruth Splitter complained to the board about the display. Lancaster created the display as part of a national summer reading program with the theme of “All Together Now,” The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.


The display featured a rainbow infinity symbol, a logo often used by neurodivergent and autism rights advocates, along with a heart and the words, “We all think differently.” The display also featured a rainbow image of a child in a wheelchair and a quote from Black writer Maya Angelou that said, “In diversity there is beauty and strength.”

The display also included the books Emma & Mommy Talk to God, The Color Purple, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Separate is Never Equal, Wonder, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Of the books, only The Color Purple contains any LGBTQ+ content.

On June 22, Splitter, a temporary summer library employee, complained about the display to Lancaster, saying she found the “gay Pride” symbol offensive and going into “an anti-LGBT diatribe” even though Lancaster explained that the infinity symbol represented neurodiversity and autism.

screenshot of court documentsThe contentious display at the Sterling Free Public Library in Kansas

Splitter then complained about the display to Michelle Miller, vice chair of the library board. Miller reportedly told Lancaster that she could get her fellow board members to have Lancaster take down the display.

“I am totally fine with diversity of skin color display, just not represented with rainbow colors,” Miller texted Wheeler, the director, according to the lawsuit. “I do not want any kind of rainbow display especially in this month. We have a conservative town and as a library do not need to make political statements (see Target and Budlight as negative examples). I certainly do not want the library to promote LGBTQ agendas.”

( JB COMMENTS: What is this LGBT agenda straight bigots keep ranting on about ? As an out gay man for over 50 years and running numerous gay business', I have no idea what they are talking about. The only agenda at work here, is their bigoted view to damn and destroy - Period.)

Wheeler removed the display, thinking its removal would just be temporary until the board advised her on how to change it. Instead, two weeks later, the board decided that it had lost confidence in Wheeler and Lancaster and voted to fire them.

Now, Wheeler and Lancaster — who are both neurodivergent — and two other library patrons are suing the Sterling Free Public Library, the library’s board, the city, and its mayor for allegedly violating their constitutional rights to free speech, due process, and equal protection and for violating the Kansas Open Records Act, a law that allows the public to view and copy records maintained by public entities.

The lawsuit argues that the city’s residents “are entitled to a library that embraces a range of viewpoints, not just the viewpoints of those with an aversion to rainbow colors and a disdain for LGBTQ citizens.” It also alleges that the board had previously objected to buying a book featuring a nonbinary teenage character and to sponsoring a city 4th of July parade because one of the floats advertised a Pride event.

The lawsuit seeks the former employees’ lost and future wages, compensatory damages, and an unspecified injunctive relief.


JB Comments: Do I really need to comment here ? Are you not as disgusted and exasperated at how things are going in the world surrounding the bullshit lies perpetrated by the far right about the LGBT community and how we are all groomers, live by some secret agenda to ' get your children' and how drag queens are dangerous and so much more ? These are dangerous times for the LGBT community and believe me when I say, the UK will follow suite - will turn the pages backwards and will push hidden agendas just for votes, for attention for publicity and power. Whipping up paranoia and creating fears that do not exist is how many despots create and nurture a society that lives in fear, and when in fear, is controllable by the few and this will lead us down a spiral of many things we take for granted and are enshrined in law, like the Freedom of Speech - being eroded and denied.

Do not take my word for it, just read and observe, listen and learn and make your own minds up and if you choose to ignore, then you are part of the problem and not the solution.


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