LGBT History on Film: Despite Clause 28 – 1988

LGBT History on Film: Despite Clause 28 (1988) from Spectacle’s Archive.

Despite Clause 28 (1988) Trailer from Spectacle Media on Vimeo.

In the late 1980s and 90s, Despite TV, a collective of filmmakers founded by Mark Saunders (Spectacle Media) specialising in social and political issues, took an active interest in documenting and raising awareness of state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender) persons in the UK.

In 1988 Despite TV produced a short campaign film, ‘Despite the Clause’, in response to the proposal of Section 28, a typically Thatcherite Local Government act proposed in 1986 and passed in 1988 which banned the “promotion of homosexuality”. The bill was proposed by the Conservative Party during the HIV/AIDS epidemic and purported to fear-mongering, homophobic tropes which portray LGBT people as deviant.

Section 28 was to have a damaging affect on LGBT individuals and, in particular, LGBT political and community groups, forcing them to limit their vital contributions to their communities, and in some cases shut down entirely for fear of legal backlash or censorship.

Despite the Clause features appearances from high profile activists including co-founder of Stonewall UK, Sir Ian Mckellen and Michael Cashman and M.P. Diane Abbott. In the film, Abbott, who was present at the proposal of the clause in the House of Commons, describes it as “A horrible, hysterical witch-hunting debate.” She also states that “The spirit behind Section 28 is a spirit of violence and intolerance to anybody that doesn’t conform, to anybody that’s different.”

Despite the best efforts of activists, Section 28 was ultimately passed and not repealed until 2003. Nonetheless, activists describe the resistance built against it as having a positive effect in establishing solidarity between LGBT people across the UK. Stonewall and other activists fought continuously for it’s repeal for over twenty five years. This campaign film subsequently remains a significant piece of LGBT history.

The full film is available for free here.

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Anti-gay law set for Winter Olympic Russia

To be gay and compete in the Winter Olympics 2014 in Sochi seems to become a problem. An anti-gay bill, to outlaw “Homosexual propaganda” which would involve making public display of affection by same-sex couples and public events that promote gay right illegal, is working its way through Russian parliament. Some cities in Russia, such as St. Petersburg, already similar laws.

If the new law gets approved, which it seems it will, gay athletes will not be allowed to talk about their sexuality or show their partners affection in public. It also prevents athletes who has not stepped out of the closet yet to do that anytime soon, since that might make them a target for discrimination during the winter olympics.

Vancouver and London hosted a Pride House for their gay fans and athletes, but even if a gay-rights group in Russia wanted to do the same the members claims the Russian Ministry of Justice banned them for doing so.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says that they can not do anything about there not being a Pride House in Sochi since they have no responsibility for the various national or special interest houses common during the Olympics. They also claims that there will not be any discrimination against those taking part in the Olympic Games.

You would think though that IOC would be big and powerful enough to be able to make the Russian Ministry of Justice to remove their ban from the Pride House, especially since they are keen to make sure that everybody knows they are against any kind of discrimination.

Marc Naimark, from the Federation of Gay games, says: “When they choose a country that’s homophobic, they send a message to the world and to gay athletes, among those messages is, ‘if you’re not out, stay in the closet.”

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