By the mid-80s, a number of UK Councils were considering the inclusion of ‘sexual orientation’ in their Equal Opportunities policies. At the same time, a number of other Councils still failed to see the point and, therefore, took no action at all.
But for Conservative-led Rugby Council simply omitting sexual orientation from their Equal Opportunities policy didn’t go far enough: in September 1984 they decided they would actively discriminate against LGBT people.
In a series of breathtakingly ignorant statements, local councillors outlined their prejudices to anyone who would listen. Councillor Keith Judge, for example, declared that all LGBT people should be banned from using Council premises:
“By including these words [sexual orientation] we shall give the people of Rugby the idea that this Council welcomes queers and perverts.”
His colleague Councillor Needham declared ‘all homosexuals to be vile and perverted people’. And Council leader Gordon Collett argued the case for not employing LGBT people by saying:
“We’re not having men turn up for work in dresses and earrings.”
(To get a true sense of the nonsense these people talked, listen to this London Broadcasting Company radio interview from September 1984.
This extraordinary ignorance should have been evident to anyone with even half a brain. But, to no one’s surprise, Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper ran an editorial on 28th September supporting Rugby in its fight against the “sick nonsense” of LGBT rights. It ended with a call to its readers – “Let’s ALL follow Rugby in fighting back!”
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: My sincerest thanks to Cath Booth for the link to the radio programme.