Labour pledges to update national curriculum to reflect LGBT issues
A gay history month in schools could be brought in as part of changes to the national curriculum aimed at presenting a more positive image of homosexual men and lesbians to pupils, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said.
Mr Corbyn pledged that a future Labour government would "actively update" the national curriculum to reflect LGBT historical figures, and the fight for gay rights.
The Labour leader also said that if elected prime minister he would issue a formal apology to all gay men who were convicted under restrictive sex laws which have now been abolished, as he does not believe the proposed pardons go far enough.
Mr Corbyn insisted children should be taught about the persecution of figures like Oscar Wilde, and Enigma code breaker Alan Turing, not just their successes.
Asked if schools would have a gay history month modelled on Black History Month, Mr Corbyn told the Press Association: "There could be that, or there could be part of the core curriculum to understand the change in law, the way in which we have changed homosexual law from the illegality of homosexual acts until the 1960's, when the original homosexual law reform came in. Then through to the period when same sex marriage was agreed by Parliament two years ago.
"I want it to become part of the norm of discussion in schools, so discussing it in literature, discussing it in history, so that we don't treat it as separate.
"To say, 'well look, Oscar Wilde was a gay man, Oscar Wilde wrote great poetry, great literature, and suffered the most appalling treatment'. As did Alan Turing, who was chemically castrated, which is unbelievable in this day and age.
"So, bring forward those figures as the heroes they were of the time, and help to bring forward an atmosphere of people respecting each others sexuality."
Asked if the proposals could provoke criticism in some quarters, Mr Corbyn said: "It might well, but then I do remember a time when there was great controversy over all kinds of legislation that has now become the norm in our lives."
Mr Corbyn used a speech at the PinkNews awards to push his policy of changing the school curriculum to better reflect gay issues.
"Let's get a new generation to rejoice at the huge contribution LGBT people have made throughout history," he said.
Mr Corbyn said gay rights group Stonewall was correct to call for an apology to men convicted under outdated sex laws.
"I agree with Stonewall on this, the pardon is important from the legal point of view, but I think the apology has to be given. I think an apology is well in order."
Asked if he would issue an apology if he becomes PM, Mr Corbyn said: "Yes indeed, many have done the same thing over those alleged deserters in the First World War. I think we should be able to face up to own history."