Tuesday 20 June 2023

Is this Rishi Sunak's new Section 28?


Until I think the mid-1980s sex education in schools was entirely about biology. In primary school we learned the basics about sexual difference and how babies were made. In secondary school we went a little further about the biological processes involved. At no point were we encouraged to be heterosexual. I suppose it was simply assumed that most of us would be. There was no mention at all of homosexuality let alone transgender. As a child it simply did not occur to me that girls could become boys. It didn’t occur to the teachers either. I’m not sure it occurred to anyone apart from a tiny number of people who had sex change operations. This was merely a medical anomaly that did not have anything to do with anyone I ever met. Teachers would have been simply baffled if a girl had maintained she was a boy, let alone a cat.

Until the early 1960s male homosexuality was illegal and broadly disapproved of. Even when public opinion accepted that it was wrong to punish homosexuals for who they chose to love, male homosexuality was still thought of as morally wrong and sinful. There is a simple reason for this. For nearly two thousand years the Church had taught that homosexuality was sinful, and a straightforward interpretation of the Bible confirms this view.

It isn’t merely that the Old Testament in rather lurid ways condemns homosexuality, Christ too made it clear that sex is only permissible within the context of heterosexual marriage. This isn’t an accidental feature of Christianity, but rather goes back to the Christian interpretation of fallen man and the possibility of redemption. Christ’s sacrifice was to redeem us from the sinfulness of sex, but only through the sacrament of marriage. None of this was controversial to any church goer (which was most of us) until the mid-1960s.

But in the 1980s some schools began to introduce teaching materials that, for instance, showed two men bringing up a child, or which described homosexuality in positive terms and discussed homosexual practices. Public opinion had not moved on that far from the 1960s. No one wanted a return to male homosexuals being punished by the law, but most parents didn’t want their child to become a homosexual and didn’t particularly want these children to learn about homosexual practices.

It is in this context that the Thatcher’s Conservative Government introduced Section 28 which banned the promotion of homosexuality. The attempt was to return to the previous situation where sex education was merely a matter of biology rather than promoting anything.

From our present point of view Section 28 looks like children trying to stop a river by means of stones. Indeed, the whole history of attitudes to sex education, homosexuality and transgender has changed so much since homosexuality was legalised that people living in the 1960s would barely recognise the world, we are living in in 2023. Something that had been sinful for two thousand years is now not only permissible, moral and sinless. It is a matter of pride.

Public opinion has genuinely changed and rightly so. The liberal principle that everything should be permitted that does not harm others means that it is simply none of my business what people do in the privacy of their own homes. The law ought not to be determined by the Bible. After all we have freedom of religion. We do not live in a theocracy.

But it is also important to realise that the ultimate failure of Section 28 was part of a steady and deliberate attempt to redefine morality which has transformed the world we all live in. Each battle won including the battle to repeal Section 28 merely led to a new battle to be won. Until we ended up with a situation which most people including most homosexuals find bizarre.

I remember when the idea of civil partnerships was put forward as a way of preventing gay people from being excluded from their dying partner’s bedside and to provide them with the same rights as married couples. It seemed reasonable enough. But it wasn’t enough. As soon as gay people had civil partnerships, they wanted marriage. But the word marriage until this point meant heterosexual marriage. No one considered it possible for a man to marry a man any more than for a square to be round.

But within a few years we had gay marriage and anyone who disagreed was a bigot.

So too within a few years not only had we to accept that men could marry men, we had to accept that men could become women. The logic was the same. The point was the same. There were no objective moral norms. There were only feelings. Once everything had become subjective, we could begin building socialism just as Khruschev thought that once everyone spoke Russian, we could build Communism.

Trans is the death of homosexuality, but the gay liberation movement is responsible for its own death. If boys who fancy boys become women and sleep with men in “heterosexual” relationships, then gay men drop out of the equation.

Worse we have the same mission creep that began in the 1960s with the legalisation of male homosexuality. We begin with gay people wishing to be left alone to live their lives in peace, we end up with rainbow flags everywhere and anyone with a view that held for two thousand years condemned not only by society but by the Church, which transformed itself not because of revelation, but because society demanded it. What is the point of setting a moral standard for millennia if you give way at the first sign of disagreement. It’s like not having a moral standard at all.

So, we come to what has been called a new Section 28. Rishi Sunak is suggesting that children in schools cannot change their pronouns without parental permission, that teachers must tell parents if a child begins transitioning, others don’t have to call a child by its preferred pronouns and head teachers must take into account other pupils before agreeing to accept a child’s change of gender.

Immediately the transgender lobby condemns this as a new version of Section 28. But there is a problem with this logic. If homosexuality and transgender is innate, it ought not to matter if it is promoted or not. There have been homosexuals throughout history even when homosexuality was not taught in schools and even when it was illegal. What difference does promoting it make? If it really is innate there ought to be just the same number of homosexuals if you promote or you don’t or indeed if you go on pride marches or you don’t.

But the idea that transgender is innate is harder to argue. It never occurred to me to suppose that any of the children in my primary school were other than girls or boys. It was a non-issue. But suddenly in the space of a few years we have an explosion of boys claiming to be girls and girls claiming to be boys. If this were all innate, we should have had this explosion decades or centuries ago.

Attitudes to homosexuality have moved on from Section 28 not least because although most parents would prefer their children to grown up heterosexual, they realise that homosexuals live fulfilled happy lives free from prejudice and that this is a good thing. There is no longer a need to claim pride in homosexuality because it is so normal. You only proclaim pride in something that you are ashamed of. Moreover homosexuals don’t believe anything that is false and they don’t mutilate their bodies or fill themselves with hormones in order to love the person they choose to love.

Here is the difference between Rishi Sunak’s new dam and Section 28. Not only is there an explosion of people wishing to change gender, this has the consequence of their believing something that is self-evidently false, i.e. that a boy can become a girl. Worse the consequence of this false belief is that everyone else has to agree with it and medical authorities must frequently fill healthy female bodies with male hormones and mutilate healthy male bodies so that they approximate female bodies. Which parent would not react with horror to such a prospect?

But this is where Sunak’s so called new Section 28 resembles its predecessor. It was unimaginable in the 1980s let alone the 1960s that we would end up where we are in 2023. Where will be in 2063?

If a boy can become a girl, then we are frankly through the looking glass where anything is possible morally and indeed logically. We already have a teacher condemning a pupil for disagreeing that her classmate can identify as a cat. How long before we have transspecies? It is far easier to convincingly approximate the looks of another race than another sex. There are instances of people doing so. How long before it becomes the norm for people to claim to be black, perhaps in order to obtain reparations. What new letters will be added to lgbtqia+?

Worse once we get rid of objective standards of what it is to be a man or a woman, then these concepts cease to have any meaning. Gender fluidity is not merely the death of homosexuality it is the death of feminism. We cannot say for certain about any woman in history that she didn’t think she was really a man. Any bias against women, might in fact be a bias against people who identify as men. How would you know? What would it be about these supposed women that made them really women? If there is nothing, there is no more feminism. You cannot rely on objective criteria when you have dispensed with them, which makes Nicola Sturgeon’s claim to be a feminist logically nonsense.

There have been some setbacks for transgender ideology lately. The vast majority of the public don’t accept it. The attempt to issue Gender Recognition Certificates without medical checks helped to bring down Nicola Sturgeon and perhaps opened the floodgates to everything else. But still unless something fundamentally changes it still feels like Sunak is making a dam in the river with rocks.

I think the only thing that may make a difference is if homosexuals see the ever-growing acronym that used to be just LGB as a threat to what they are and rebel against Trans and everything that follows on from it. After all, LGB is about who you are, who you fancy and who you want to go to bed with. Trans has nothing to do with who you are, because you are trying to become who you are not.