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S28 REFERENDUM RESULT FAILS TO SWAY SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE

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Scottish executive ministers have dismissed as flawed the result of the privately-financed referendum on the propos...
Scottish executive ministers have dismissed as flawed the result of the privately-financed referendum on the proposed scrapping of the law banning the 'promotion' of homosexuality in schools, reports The Times (p4).

Following the publication of the the referendum result, which showed that the majority of those who voted favoured the retention of section 28, Brian Souter, the Stagecoach transport tycoon who funded the operation, threatened to finance a campaign to unseat Labour politicians unless they promised to issue guidelines emphasising the importance of marriage.

The Independent (p2) reports that of the 1.26 million valid votes cast, 1.09m Scots, or 86.8%, supported his demands for the measure to be retained and only 166,406 voted for repeal. More than two-thirds of Scots did not vote.

The Scottish cabinet was unimpressed with the result, deciding in a meeting that the result would not change their policy. The Scottish parliament also rejected an attempt to water down the legislation repealing the clause.

George McGregor, of the pro-repeal Scrap the Section campaign, said Mr Souter's failure was 'abundantly clear'. 'Brian Souter spent millions on this ballot. We are delighted that the people of Scotland have rejected such a shameful chequebook democracy and that 72% of Scots have snubbed Souter. The Scottish parliament should stand up to Souter and repeal section 28,' he said.

The Scottish executive said that two-thirds of the 3.97 million people sent ballot papers - based on an out-dated 1998 register - failed to vote. Of those that were sent out, 318,000 ballot papers were returned undelivered.

But Mr Souter said the poll was an overwhelming result in his favour. 'If this is a listening government, then listen to this: there must be no repeal of section 28. We didn't vote for it and we're no having it,' he said.

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