Responding to the ‘Now Not Then’ tag, Hannah Witton takes us through some positive changes in her lifetime has seen with sexual education, sexual health, and law.
The world was very different in 1992 – the UK came second in Eurovision (we know, this seems impossible), we could go to Blockbuster to rent a VHS of whichever film we were obsessed with, and sex ed was vastly different to today. When Hannah Witton was tagged to discuss positive changes from a ex ed perspective, she knew this was brilliant way to look back over her lifetime to educate her audience on progress that has been made with the way sexual health, sex education and sexual law is covered in 2019.
To begin with the first change, Hannah had to go a little further back to 1988 when Section 28 was brought into the law. As she explains, this clause banned the promotion of homosexuality in local authorities such as schools following a media frenzy around a pro-LGBT book found in a Labour-controlled library. Hannah explains the wording is vague in what “promotion” actually entails, but discusses how the impact of the frenzy heavily impacted LGBT support groups, public support, and LGBT discussion in schools. The act was repealed across the country by 2003, with LGBT issues only brought back onto schedules recently. By September 2020, relationship education and sex education will be compulsory in school.
Is the still work to do? According to Hannah, definitely. “We can see with the way the law is changing, we are going in the right direction” she explained, noting that even today generation and public opinion are still clashing. “Just because you can change the law doesn’t mean that homophobia just evaporates.”
Over the video, Hannah delves into other areas of positive change, such as how reusable menstrual products have become more mainstream with expanding options available, how STI testing has become more advanced and user-friendly, and legal recognition around civil partnerships.
Equal marriage was passed by 2014 across Britain (it’s important, Hannah notes, to remember it is still not legal in Northern Ireland), but before that, the only previous option available to same sex couples was a civil partnership. Hannah explains the history of civil partnerships and equal marriage, summarising how it grants the same right as marriage but holds no requirement to host a ceremony or exchange vows. By the end of 2019, heterosexual couples who do not want to get married but still want the same rights can get civil partnerships.
However, this change has been seen as controversial to some; Hannah tells us that, originally, civil partnerships were seen as a ‘consolation prize’. Do civil partnerships need redefining? “I don’t know, who knows?” she concludes. There is some appeal, she explains, as someone in a heterosexual relationship with issues with marriage due to patriarchal reasons, but acknowledging as someone who isn’t a member of the LGBT community that she doesn’t truly know what it means from that perspective.
As society continue to evolve, and taboos continue to be broken, we’re sure Hannah could easily follow up on this in a few years time with more changes and improvement