Local conflict and ideological struggle : #positive images'and Section 28.
The work focuses on a chain of events that began in the London Borough of Haringey in
1986. The Labour-led local council's adoption of a policy that would promote 'positive
images' of homosexuality in local schools erupted into a conflict that led, in part, to
Parliament's passage of Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act, which prohibits the
'promotion of homosexuality.' The dissertation examines the local conflict, investigating
circumstances and actions that led to the creation of the policy, underlying economic, social
and political tensions in the borough that were exacerbated by the conflict, and the
consequent strategic opposition and support of both formally and informally constituted
local political groups. It describes the movement of the conflict from the local to the
national stage, analysing the national context in which coalitions opposed, supported, and
attempted to ignore the policy in national political circles. It studies the construction of
homosexuality as a campaign issue in the 1987 general election, the creation of the 1988 law,
and the effects that the law had on the Borough.
The work investigates the conflict's oppOSitional and exclusionary discourses on
homosexuality embodied by the statements of those who were engaged in opposing the
Haringey policy and supporting the Government's law. Five interrelated discourses of
order were overwhelmingly present in the debates, are included in the brief text of the
Section, and are contemporary interpretations of dominant historical discourses on
1. The promotion of 'positive images' of homosexuality is a form of political propaganda or
indoctrination that poses a threat to the nation.
2. Homosexuality can be 'promoted' by homosexual predators who force, recruit and/ or
proselytise their way of life on unsuspecting innocents.
3. Homosexuality is a disease that, combined with the more recent spectre of AIDS, creates
a powerful threat of homosexuality -- or 'positive images' -- as spreading epidemic.
4. Homosexuality is a 'pretended family relationship' that reinforces a notion of 'real' family
that consequently excludes other family forms.
5. 'Positive images' of homosexuality would adversely affect innocent children and
Taken as a whole, the local and national conflict constituted an ideological struggle in which
the meaning and import of homosexuality was severely contested and simultaneously
transformed. It identifies and connects both action and discourse as major sites of
ideological struggle. It posits the possibility of not 'studying down' nor 'studying up,' but
of studying through, and thus offers an anthropological model that enables an integrated
investigation of both local and global levels.