The Zhoosh! Brighton Blog
With word of Thatcher’s death, news stories have flooded in about how this woman and her government dismantled the unions, privatised the UK’s utility servicers and sold of the council housing stock, which was great for many first time buyers, but neglected to reinvest in social housing.
Interestingly the mainstream press, so far, have ignored the devastation Thatcher and her government brought to the LGBT community, when in 1988 Thatcher introduced Clause 28; a piece of legislation that banned local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales from, “intentionally promoting homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.”
The legacy of this piece of hateful legislation would cause much stress and anxiety to young Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who would be denied the opportunity to explore or speak up about their sexual orientation, and equally teachers and health professionals were wary of discussing these matters for fear of prosecution. Remember, this was the era before the internet, and any LGBT youth support groups were rare outside the bigger cities and became even more scarce with the introduction of this paper.
Around the same time AIDS was at its height of destruction, with the mainstream press and medical circles reporting that AIDS was associated with the sexual activities of gay and bisexual men only. Such misinformation only helped to intensify the negativity and in some cases, hatred and distrust towards the gay community with daily headlines referring to the gay plague.
Thatcher and her government could have done more to curb this hatred and invested in better sexual health campaigns, instead of scaring and confusing the general public with their ludicrous “Don’t Die of Ignorance” campaigns filled with tombstones and icebergs. Sure, those adverts are memorable, but to the general public it only helped to reinforce the idea that gay men were going to bring the world to its knees.
The attack on gay men’s lives, when many were at their most vulnerable, from those in high authority, government and the mainstream press was shocking then and just as shocking now. Many people will remember Sir James Anderton, then chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, with his comments that gay men living with HIV were, “Swirling around in a human cesspool of their own making”. Although these comments caused outrage, Thatcher refused to condemn Anderton’s comments by saying, “It would be outrageous if the Chief Constable were required to seek clearance for all his public speaking engagements.” Thankfully, Anderton’s reign of homophobia came to an abrupt end when his daughter came out as a lesbian.
Thankfully Thatcher was still in rude health to witness on 21 June 2000 in Scotland and on 18 November 2003 in the rest of Great Britain when the much hated Thatcher endorsed, Clause 28 was removed from the statuary law books. David Cameron also made a public apology for the fact that the Conservative Government drafted such a vile piece of legislation in the first place.
No doubt the press will brush over how Thatcher developed a way of getting more air into bread, so shoppers would be paying more for less, stopped children receiving free milk at school or bring up that small matter of ordering the British submarine HMS Conqueror to torpedo the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano 30 miles outside the war zone, killing 400 Argentinean crewmen.
The blue rinse brigade will sing her praises, but her legacy will always be tinged with the death, destruction and misery she infected on thousands of UK citizens. To reword a quote from Bette Davies, “You should never say bad things about the dead; you should only say good . . . Margaret Thatcher is dead. Good.”