Thatcher and sexuality

Thatcher and sexuality

  • Thatcher was very keen to promote family values (heterosexual, monogamous marriage)
  • Aimed to stop the promotion of homosexuality in schools
  • She was scared of moral decline due to promotion of homosexuality
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  • HIV was first diagnosed in Britain in 1981 and was associated with gay men
  • By the 1990s, more heterosexual men were also being diagnosed
  • Ignorance about the dieases led to anti-gay attitudes - 1987 survey showed 3/4 people saw homosexuality as mostly or always wrong
  • Rather than suggesting abstinence, Thatcher supported a safe sex campaign to promote the use of condoms 
  • Shows the government were able to work pragmatically 
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Section 28

  • The government passed two laws to ban the discussion of homosexuality in schools
  • Section 46 of the 1986 Education Act specified that sex education should promote the values of family life
  • Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act banned material that promoted homosexuality as a way of life
  • Was a response to right-wing press campaigns against books like Jenny Lives with Eric and Martina book to help young children adaot to living with same sex parents
  • Led to several protests by gay and lesbian groups including the invasion of the BBC News Studios
  • Stonewall was formed by Ian Mckellen and other ay rights activists in 1989 - they campaigned for the repeal of section 28 and the recognition as violence against LGBT+ members as hate crime
  • LGBT rights campaigners claimed that Thatcher caused even more division rather than solving problems by outlawing the promotion of homosexuality
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Changes in the media

  • 1985 - My Beautiful Laundrette's main storylne features a love affair between two gay men, was nominated for Oscars and BAFTAs
  • 1989 - EastEnders screened the first ever gay kiss on British television
  • Pop music - Boy George and Marylin were famed for their androgynous appearance. The Pet Shop Boys' single 'It's a Sin' challenged perceptions about the wrongness of gay desire
  • Major years - The 1992 film Peter's Friends was about a gay man telling his friends that he was HIV positive
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) made a point that gay couples could never celebrate their love through marriage
  • Major made a symbolic gesture in 1994 by inviting Ian Mckellen to Downing Street. He was also forced to acknowledge that his 'back to basics' campaign was not an attack on homosexuality
  • Lowered the age of consent of gay men from 21 to 18
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