NUS Scotland organises protest against Souter knighthood

Brian Souter (second from right) (c) kitreno

Brian Souter was knighted in this year’s Honours List, provoking a backlash from the LGBT community over the moral controversy from ‘Keep the Clause‘, a project seen by many to be homophobic.

‘Section 28’, the amendment to the Local Government Act 1986, proclaimed that a local authority  “shall not intentionally promote 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.”

It was repealed in Scotland in 2000 and then UK-wide in 2003, but many support groups for lesbians, gays and bisexuals were shut down over fears of breaching the amendment.

Today, NUS Scotland (Scotland’s branch of the National Union of Students) organised a protest against Souter’s knighthood. Here’s their press release on the protest:

NUS Scotland’s LGBT campaign led a demonstration by students, LGBT activists and supporters today outside the Scottish Parliament in protest of the awarding of Brian Souter with a knighthood.

The “Withdraw Brian Souter’s Knighthood” campaign, organised by NUS Scotland’s LGBT campaign, protested the decision to honour Brian Souter, who spearheaded the homophobic “Keep the Clause” effort to ban schools from introducing anti-bullying policies and prevent local authorities from “promoting” homosexuality.

The NUS Scotland LGBT campaign is also publicising an online petition, already signed by 6000 people, to have his knighthood revoked (http://bit.ly/SouterPetition).

The “Withdraw Brian Souter’s Knighthood” campaign is calling for this knighthood to be retracted in support of the people who suffer from homophobic or transphobic bullying and harassment, and to send a clear message to homophobes that this kind of behaviour should no longer be overlooked when awarding British citizens this high honour.

Nathan Sparling, NUS Scotland’s LGBT officer, said:

“Today’s protest was to held to drawn the attention of the royal family and the thousands of people attending the Royal Garden Party that Scottish people don’t believe such high honours should be tainted by the stench of discrimination and homophobia.

“It is not acceptable that Brian Souter, one of the most prominent anti-LGBT campaigners in Scotland, is being honoured with a knighthood. Over 6000 people have signed an online petition calling for Brian Souter’s Knighthood to be withdrawn, and we will continue to collect signatures in the coming weeks before presenting the petition to Her Majesty the Queen.

“Souter ploughed money into producing propaganda for the “Keep the Clause” campaign in 2000 in order to persuade the country to keep Section 28, which stopped schools introducing anti-homophobic bullying policies and banned local authorities from ‘intentionally promoting’ homosexuality.

“Honouring such a known homophobe with a royal honour is disgraceful, and we urge all people who oppose discrimination to sign the petition calling on Brian Souter’s knighthood to be withdrawn.”

It is encouraging to see such vigour on the side of liberty and common sense. It is frightening, however, to see Souter receive a knighthood years after such a flagrant display of homophobia.

In summary, the LGBT community is right to protest this. Their ultimate goal should be 100% social acceptance within the global community. This will take time, but generations will break down barriers, as they have done in recent times.

jon.baldie@gmail.com

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