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I should now like to finish my nasty remarks. I was taken aback by the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and her attack on my noble friend Lord Alli. He referred to hatred and to his experiences of hatred and he was quite right. Whether referring to black people, brown people or, in this case, homosexuals, those groups are subject to hatred. I do not know what kind of letters the noble Baroness received on this subject, but I know that those I have received have been so appalling that I could not bear to keep them in my room. They went straight through the shredder. I have rarely seen anything as extreme as the remarks made against homosexuals in the correspondence sent to me. For all I know the letters received by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, were nicely balanced and moderate. However, mine were not. They referred to "these appalling people" who are, "a threat to our society" and who, "have got to be stopped". I have received letters saying that homosexuals ought to be killed and so forth.
Baroness Young: I thank the noble Lord for giving way. I intervene only to say that I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Alli, was not in his place when I was speaking. I should like to reiterate what I said. I do not hate anybody. To assert that people like myself, who hold our own particular views, go around hating or encouraging others to hate, is quite wrong. The noble Lord, Lord Peston, might reconsider those remarks.
Perhaps I may also say that we have all received unpleasant letters. I have received many very unpleasant letters. I have chosen not to refer to them because I have tried to concentrate on the matters which I believe are most important.
Lord Peston: I believe that it is not unreasonable to place oneself in the position of people like my noble friend Lord Alli--although he was referring to a broader range of people--and ask what they feel when they hear that kind of remark and read that kind of amendment.
I make two final points. In this as in so many debates in your Lordships' House it upsets me when we are told that we are up to our old tricks and that we are old people telling young people how they should behave. That has occurred ever since I arrived here. We should realise that out there are many young people who say, "I wish they would talk about things that they know something about and not about the world in which we are living". I try hard not to tell young people how to behave, especially as the young people whom I know are my own children. I shall not tell your Lordships how they respond to me.
I believe that overwhelmingly this is a moral issue. I disagree with some noble Lords who have asked the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment. I am desperate that she divides the Committee on this matter so that I, at least, may vote against her.
Baroness Strange: I have been married for only 47 years, but I am working on it! I may feel rather like the best man at a wedding who stands up just when everyone cannot bear another speech and, quite insensitively, proceeds in detail to read out a great heap of telegrams. These are some of the 150-odd letters which I have received, all beseeching me to support the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Young. Before your Lordships take fright or die of boredom, I shall not read them out. However, through them all runs the theme that all children have a right to their childhood and their innocence.
Yesterday, when I was kneeling in the snowdrops in the woods at home, picking fresh white blossoms with their sharp, sweet scent, they made me think of the innocence, purity and loveliness of children, of their fresh clear eyes and of their direct way of looking at things. I was lucky enough to have a very happy childhood; so did my children and my grandchildren. I should like all children in the world to keep that childhood happiness and innocence for as long as possible. We all have a long time indeed in which to be grown up.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: I know that some Members of the Committee are becoming impatient. However, some of your Lordships will remember that we agreed earlier that those who wanted to speak, having not spoken on the first amendment, would be able to contribute "at reasonable brevity"--I added that myself!
Lord Bragg: I wish to speak briefly. I have been waiting for five hours. These are the first six pages of my speech and I turn them all over. I want to say simply that I support those who argue that Section 28 should be repealed.
To strike out that section would be a victory not only for those who suffer from it; I believe that it will also send out a powerful signal that the society which we want today in our country in the 21st century is various, multiple, welcoming of difference, determined to extend the equalities of tolerance, and all the richer for it.
Lord Harris of Haringey: I am of the view that misinformation breeds myths. Myths breed intolerance, and intolerance then breeds violence. I rather assumed--naively perhaps--that in coming to your Lordships' House I would not be exposed to misinformation and myths. I speak as someone who was leader of Haringey Council for 12 years, and whose sons attended primary schools in Haringey in the 1980s when so many dreadful, dreadful things are alleged to have happened.
I listened with interest to the remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, in introducing her amendment. I listened also to the remarks of a trio of noble Baronesses opposite in the debate on Second Reading on 6th December. The noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, for example, referred to the Haringey Council document, Mirrors Round the Walls--Respecting Diversity, which, she said, makes "pretty awful reading". She told us that she had read it in 1988 and that she had re-read it subsequently. I believed that perhaps we were talking about a different document. Therefore, I checked my copy of it and found that it does make pretty awful reading. It is long-winded, bureaucratic and boring, but, my goodness, I do not believe that it conveys the sense to which the noble Baroness referred. The document was produced by a working party of 27 members, including four head teachers, three deputy heads and other teaching staff.
Then we had the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Knight, who referred to the document which has been referred to again today: Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin. She said specifically that it has on its front cover a picture of a six year-old sitting up in bed with her naked father and naked lover on the other side. But that, too, turns out to be misinformation. I am sure that the noble Baroness did not intend to mislead the House, but the cover has three separate head shots of a young girl and the head shots of two men, all of them fully clothed. Therefore, where did this image come from? It certainly was not from the front cover.
Then we had the story about the video, How to Become a Lesbian in 35 Minutes. Apparently, it was suggested that that was produced specifically to be shown in a school for handicapped children, some of whom were "very young". In fact, it was a video; it was shown to a lesbian youth group which happened to meet at the Blanche Neville school building in Tottenham. Yes, that is a school for special needs children, but it was an evening letting. There were no special needs children in the school at the time. It just so happened that that is where the meeting was located. However, the impression was given--I believe erroneously and without ill intent--that somehow that was all part of a plot to indoctrinate--if indoctrination were possible--young handicapped girls into the art of how to be a lesbian.
The title of the video was ironic. I appreciate that sometimes irony is in short supply in this House, particularly in this debate. However, that is what was intended. It was irony to demonstrate that one cannot teach someone to be lesbian or gay by a video, or even by one or two lessons in a classroom. My goodness, how wonderful the maths, English and science results would be in this country if it was that easy to inculcate things into our children.
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