As Scotland celebrated devolution with the reopening of the Scottish Parliament, Stonewall Scotland was founded to tackle discrimination and inequality north of the border.
Later that year, Section 28 was repealed in Scotland, a full three years before it was overturned in England and Wales. Its repeal was one of the very first acts of the newly devolved Scottish Parliament and was the product of ardent campaigning from LGBT rights groups across Scotland, including the Equality Network.
As the Scottish government pressed forward with plans to repeal the controversial Section 28 of the Local Government Act, the campaign group ‘Keep the Clause’ organised a privately funded vote and posted ballot papers to Scotland’s four-million-strong electorate to show public support for keeping the clause on the statute book.
In late 2000, Stonewall Scotland produced Caused by the Clause, research that highlighted LGBT individuals’ experiences during the year of the Section 28 debate – or Section 2A as it was known in Scotland – and the negative impact that the vocal ‘Keep the Clause’ campaign had on LGBT people’s lives. One respondent said:
"I found the whole section 2a episode to be one of the most horrifying examples of widespread homophobia that I have experienced. The lies and hatred whipped up by the tabloid press physically sickened me and has made me never want to pick up a newspaper again.
"I found myself getting angry and ranting at the TV every time it was debated or Brian Souter’s self-righteous face appeared before me and I felt frustrated and helpless in that I had to rely on the MSP’s to stand firm.
"I did my share of letter-writing to MSP’s and it felt good to be doing something. Although all these negative feelings were coming to the fore, I was heartened by the support that the LGBT community got from many sections of the public who responded with heartfelt understanding of the terrible debacle that was going on.
"I was rather disappointed in the Scottish Executive for letting the Support the Clause campaign get so out of hand but again was heartened that the likes of Donald Dewar and Wendy Alexander and many others held their stance in the face of such wave of professional and personal abuse. Thankfully it’s over and I hope nothing like this ever happens to us again."