My Complaint to the ASA regarding Anglican Mainstream & Core Issues proposed homophobic campaign

Today many of you may have seen plans for London buses to run an homophobic ad campaign paid for by a couple of Christian fundamentalist organisations. For those of you who missed them you can see them here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/12/christian-anti-gay-ads-buses?newsfeed=true 

The two rather deeply unpleasant organisations are here Core Issues (http://www.core-issues.org/index.php?page=Proposal ) whose mission is to work

‘with local churches to assist in equipping fellowships for ministering to those who have issues of homosexuality, either in their own experieince, or in that of families and friends associated with their fellowships’.

Yes, basically it’s not enough for them to bully gay Christians, now they want christians to bully other gays as well. Vile. 

The other organisation is Anglican Mainstream (http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/). They claim 

Anglican Mainstream is a community within the Anglican Communion committed to promote, teach and maintain the Scriptural truths on which the Anglican Church was founded. These also guarantee its fellowship with Christians down history and throughout the world. Faithfulness to Scripture as God’s Word is essential for sharing the love and purpose of God in Jesus Christ.’

A quick scan of their website will show you that the Scriptural truth seems to be a lot about ‘urgh, botters want to marry and then we’ll all die’. Yep, they want to think about what the Anglican Church was founded on, but wasn’t the Anglican Church founded on someone wanting to change the rules of marriage?  They even feature Ann Widdicomb talking about a privileged elite. Says the woman who worked hard and climbed to TV presenter ladder to earn her own show on Sky Atl… Oh fuck it, I can’t be arsed with her.

Anyway, these organisations are big on quotes about Christianity, light on ‘judge ye not’ and, especially bad at Easter, what with it being JC’s final commandment being ‘Love one another as I have loved you’. Apparently spiky homophobic ads suggesting people should be unhappy within themselves is loving each other. If that’s love then I don’t want to see hate.

Anyway. TFL got involved and blocked the ads, then BoJo said he’d block them but anyway, I have still complained the the ASA. ‘But they’re not going ahead’ you may say, well I think the principle needs to be proven and besides, the CAP code states that it’s for ads which have been ‘submitted’. Below is my complaint for you all to enjoy, use a loo roll, send me death threats foir:

The ad claims:

Not Gay! Ex-Gay Post-Gay! And proud! get Over It!

This breaches CAP 3.7 which states ‘Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation’

There is no medical or scientific evidence for people being ‘post gay’ or ‘ex-gay’ as suggested in this ad. The Royal College of Psychiatrists states clearly ‘There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.’ in their 2010 statement available here: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/PS01_2010x.pdf  . The RCP can be considered to be an objective substantiation against the claim in this ad.

Unless the makers of this ad can provide documentary and objective substantiated evidence of people being ‘ex-gay’ then this ad is clearly in breach of 3.7.

As the ad doesn’t include any speech marks it cannot be argued that this is a verbatim statement from a person or a character speaking. It’s a statement of fact that there are ‘ex-gay’ and ‘post-gay’ people from an organisation that supplies services dealing with ‘issues of homosexuality’ and in direct contradiction with RCP and BMA statements.

Furthermore, this ad contravenes CAP 4.1 which states ‘Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.’

Clearly this ad will (and already has) cause offence to many based on its homophobic nature. Whilst both the organisations may argue that their religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong are also covered by this rule, of course they are arguing for the right to offend over the right not to be offended. Simply put, this ad not being allowed does nothing to infringe of the rights of those who believe homosexuality is wrong to hold that belief, but allowing this ad does infringe of the rights of those who are homosexual to go about their day without offence. Therefore in this instance it should be found in favour of avoiding offence against homosexual people and the ads should not be allowed.

I look forward to hearing your response.

Kindest,

Mat Morrisroe

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