Section 28 of the Local Government Act passed into law on May 24th 1988. But Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government had under-estimated our communities’ determination to resist this legislation at every possible opportunity.
And so it was that, at 6 p.m. on May 23rd, four lesbians ran into the BBC News studios just as the Six O’Clock News was getting underway. They didn’t quite make it onto camera but they could clearly be heard shouting ‘Stop Section 28’ as various members of the BBC news crew grabbed them.
Despite presenter Sue Lawley’s snooty dismissal of the protestors, it was clear that the action served to get the message across. Even the BBC’s own Nine O’Clock News ran the story!
There is still some uncertainty as to who these brave women were. At the time of the incident they gave their names as Sarah, Charlotte, Anne and Eleanor.
When two of the women subsequently appeared on a talk show they gave their names as Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler. In fact these were pseudonyms. The real Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler actually lived some two centuries earlier. They were the famous ‘Ladies of Llangollen’, who eloped from arranged marriages in Ireland in the 18th century so that they could spend the rest of their lives together!
I would very much like to find out the names of these brave women and – with their consent – make them known to a wider audience. I know that one of the women who took in the action is called Booan Temple. (At least she recently appeared under that name on a TV programme about Section 28 and the BBC ‘invasion’). I still don’t know who the others are. I believe that they are the same women who abseilled into the House Lords earlier in the year.
These women are true community heroines. They put their liberty at risk in order to show just how hateful Section 28 was. As such they need to be recognised for the brave and inspired actions they undertook on behalf of our communities.