February 2016 – Never Going Underground t-shirt, 1988

NMLH.1990.5.13 New Year Card (inside) @ People's History Museum

Never Going Underground t-shirt, 1988

This t-shirt was made for a rally in Manchester’s Albert Square, protesting the introduction of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988.

Section 28 (or Clause 28) stated that local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland ‘shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality’ or ‘promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.’

In the years leading up to the act, there was widespread discrimination against LGBT+ people, however many councils began to adopt anti-discrimination policies (including Manchester City Council who employed officers to counter homophobia) and there was a heightened public awareness of LGBT+ rights.  The t-shirt depicts the London Underground symbol with the words ‘Never Going Underground/Out and Proud’ and reflects defiance against discrimination; it was only 21 years earlier that homosexual acts were legalised – the wearer was refusing to go back to a time when homosexuality was illegal and LGBT+ people had to hide who they were.

The act was opposed by LGBT+ rights groups including Stonewall and Schools Out, which also supported teachers on how to counter homophobia in schools.  Some family groups such as Gingerbread (a charity for single mothers) and many in the labour and trade union movement also opposed the legislation.

Section 28 was not repealed until 2000 in Scotland and 2003 in the rest of the UK.  LGBT+ students still face discrimination in schools.

The t-shirt is on display in Main Gallery Two.  The Clause 28 Tea Set, 1988 by Claudia Clare is on display from Monday 1 February to Monday 29 February.  It depicts some of the more audacious acts against the law, including lesbians abseiling into the House of Lords, the invasion of the Six O’Clock News, and the Mother’s Day occupation of the Ideal Home Exhibition.