Anyone who doubts the level of homophobia generated by the Thatcher government’s Section 28 need only watch the following short interview. In it, Graham McKerrow, one of the founders of London’s Capital Gay newspaper describes the responses to the firebombing of the paper’s offices in December 1987. They are absolutely chilling.
As McKerrow recounts, the local – Labour – MP, Frank Dobson, simply wasn’t interested. Like so many Labour MPs at that time he simply didn’t want to be seen defending LGBT rights in case he lost votes. Only gay MP Chris Smith took it up; but when he described it in Parliament Conservative MP Elaine Kellett-Bowman exclaimed “Quite right too!” When asked to explain her outburst she was completely unrepentant, declaring that:
“I am quite prepared to affirm that there should be an intolerance of evil.”
An unbelievable endorsement of firebombing. Yet one month later, Margaret Thatcher made her a Dame.
No one was ever charged with the attack. Again, as McKerrow recounts, police efforts to track the perpetrators of such a serious offence were limited to what they described as ‘asking around’. Queers simply weren’t worth wasting police resources on a proper investigation.
Thankfully, no one was hurt or, even worse, killed in the attack, but it’s pretty obvious that, even if they had been, there’d be little sympathy, let alone a proper response.