Sir Ian McKellen is not mourning the death of Margaret Thatcher

Actor Sir Ian McKellen, who plays Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, penned a few words on his blog, yesterday, about former British Prime Minster Margaret Thatcher’s recent.

Sir Ian is gay, and had a few choice words for Thatcher’s homophobia.

The official obituaries have been, as often happens, partial in both senses: sympathetic and incomplete. With regard to the divisive effect of her reign, one omission was significant and glaring: Section 28.

Lest we forget, this nasty, brutish and short measure of the third Thatcher administration, was designed to slander homosexuality, by prohibiting state schools from discussing positively gay people and our “pretended family relations”. Opposition to Section 28 galvanised a new generation of activists who joined with long-time campaigners for equality. Stonewall UK was founded, to repeal Section 28 and pluck older rotten anti-gay legislation from the constitutional tree. This has taken two decades to achieve.

Pathetically, in her dotage, Baroness Thatcher was led by her supporters into the House of Lords to vote against Section 28’s repeal: her final contribution to UK politics. She dies too early to oppose Parliament’s inevitable acceptance of same–gender marriage.

Thatcher misjudged the future when, according to her deputy chief whip, she “threw a piece of red meat (Section 28) to her right-wing wolves”. Some of these beasts survive her, albeit de-fanged. When, to take a recent example, a disgraced cardinal delivers anti-gay diatribes, the spirit of social Thatcherism is revealed as barren, hypocritical and now pointless.

Wikipedia notes that due to Section 28 “a number of lesbian, gay and bisexual student support groups in schools and colleges across Britain were closed owing to fears by council legal staff that they could breach the Act.”


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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