Friday, 13 April 2012

Now a lawsuit against the Mayor over the bus adverts

Updated twice Sunday morning

Jerome Taylor at the Independent has this: Christian group to sue Boris Johnson over ‘gay cure’ bus advertisements

The Christian group behind the recent attempt to place “gay cure” adverts on London buses have instructed lawyers to sue both the Mayor of London and the company that initially agreed to host the adverts after they were banned at the last minute, the Independent can reveal.

Aughton Ainsworth, a Manchester based law firm with a long track record of taking on controversial religious cases, have been hired by Anglican Mainstream to issue legal proceedings against both Boris Johnson and CBS Outdoor…

Savi Hensman has written for Ekklesia ‘Gay cure’ advertising proves misleading.

‘Ex-gay’ movement advertisements which were to have appeared on the sides of London buses have been blocked by the Mayor of London, to the relief of many. Mayor Boris Johnson is chair of Transport for London. However Mike Davidson of the Core Issues Trust, which placed the ads with backing from Anglican Mainstream, accused him of “censorship”.

Tension can sometimes arise between freedom of expression and protection of sections of society from discrimination and the wider public from offence. Getting the right balance in such instances can be difficult.

What is surprising in this case, however, is that the Advertising Standards Authority had apparently cleared the ads in the first place. These read “Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!” This implies that, if one is attracted mainly to the same sex, changing one’s sexual orientation is possible and desirable.

This is borne out by Core Issues Trust’s commitment to “support men and women with homosexual issues who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference and expression”. The Anglican Mainstream website, announcing the advertising campaign, claims that “sexuality is far more fluid than has hitherto been thought”.

So the claim touches on science, as well as religion and ethics. And on this basis, since matters of fact as well as opinion are involved, this campaign would have fallen foul of the rule that ads must not mislead.

Channel 4 News had an excellent report on Friday night, including video interviews with representatives from Stonewall, Index on Censorship, Core Issues Trust, and Anglican Mainstream, see Transport for London bans ‘anti-gay’ adverts.

…TFL found they had breached two clauses of their advertising code: firstly that it was “likely to cause widespread or serious offence to members of the public” and secondly that it contained “messages which relate to matters of public controversy and sensitivity”.

TFL’s spokesperson told Channel 4 News: “We have an advertising code over what we are comfortable with. In this case we felt it would be offensive to parts of our customer base.”

“We have decided that it should not run on London’s bus or transport networks. We do not believe that these specific ads are consistent with TFL’s commitment to a tolerant and inclusive London.”

‘Context and audience’

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity Stonewall, whose advert was mimicked, told Channel 4 News: “On balance I think Boris [Johnson, London’s mayor] has probably got it right, but whether the advert of itself should automatically be banned - that’s an argument about context and audience.”

Mr Summerskill argued freedom of speech is a nuanced issue. “It’s a question of balance,” he said. “It’s probably right it shouldn’t be on London’s iconic buses, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be published in, say, the Spectator.”

“If they’re seen in the wider public space, where clearly they do undermine young people who are growing up to be gay, that is a serious issue - the mental health of young gay people is often significantly overlooked,” he added…

The BBC Radio Sunday programme also had a discussion of this, with representatives from Changing Attitude, Core Issues Trust, and Anglican Mainstream. Go to this page for downloads of the audio file. The item is at the end of the programme, go forward about 34.5 minutes…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 13 April 2012 at 4:52pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation
Comments

Seems Anglican Mainstream hit pay dirt. Great headline-grabber (beats the heck out of a pair of persecuted boarding-house keepers), especially with the London mayoral election just three weeks hence. Is there still time to launch a "Fundies for Ken" campaign?

Posted by: Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer on Friday, 13 April 2012 at 5:15pm BST

The bus crash goes on happening .....

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 13 April 2012 at 5:29pm BST

It may be a good thing that the general public focuses on the hate filled and homophobic rhetoric that comes from organizations on the far Right. Perhaps this is the only way the general public will truly understand the agendas and objectives of these so called "orthodox Anglicans". Much damage to the glbt communities and women's role in the Church has been done by such organizations who have a political agenda that ALWAYS EXCLUDES and disenfranchises voices that really deserve to be heard. The far Right dearly loves to drown out these oppressed communities. Let this subject be openly and publicly discussed because it will expose the various groups that have serious potential to do great harm to these two communities. A lawsuit such as the one proposed by Anglican Mainstream regarding these types of public transportation ads must be challenged and publicly exposed for exactly what they intend to convey. Sneaky and disruptive come to mind, but certainly these groups must always be exposed.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Friday, 13 April 2012 at 5:45pm BST

There's nowt so litigious as a "Conservative Christian", is there, despite what Jesus had to say about going to law?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 13 April 2012 at 6:52pm BST

Send in the clowns . . .

Posted by: jnwall on Friday, 13 April 2012 at 7:11pm BST

Do Christians really do things like this? I am amazed these people think this is bringing the good news to the world.

Posted by: Tom on Friday, 13 April 2012 at 10:54pm BST

Soooo true, Fr Mark.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer on Friday, 13 April 2012 at 11:56pm BST

Just 'Mainstream' playing to the gallery - perhaps with the upcoming GAFCON meeting in mind?

I pray they get blasted out of court (But whose paying for the law-suit?)

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 12:40am BST

And you can bet your bottom dollar..... Chris Sugden and co, will be personally none the poorer for the litigation.

Posted by: Robetrt ian Williams on Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 7:09am BST

Of course the reason we are in this mess is because Archbishop Rowan allowed himself to be bullied into forcing Jeffrey John to pull out of Reading. It all stems from that. If there had been a good reason for him to do so one might understand it. But there was none. It gave power to Anglican Mainstream and now look what has happened.

Posted by: Canon Andrew Godsall on Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 8:30am BST

I guess the problem is that TfL was making a knee-jerk decision not to carry the ads based upon the objections of interest groups (whose interests align with mine but with whom I don't always agree on strategy). I think the best approach for TfL at this point would be to spend a lot of time and effort investigating whether these ads and the therapy that underlie them are true and whether they stand up under general laws relating to truth in advertising. In effect, they were advertisements for a discredited form of psychotherapy. The story may be big, but I'm not sure that it can't be big in a good way for the good guys. But that all depends on the way that it's framed. TfL needs to really focus on this now that it's become an issue. Are there LGBTQ charities that might be willing to underwrite the litigation costs, to the same extent that AM are undoubtedly doing? Liberal Christian charities?

Indeed, the whole thing bears a non-trivial relationship with the debate about Dr. Harrison that's been going on on other threads for some time now.

Posted by: Scot Peterson on Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 8:46am BST

This is germane.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/13/gay-conversion-therapies-bullies-missionary

And what a lovely, loving couple they make.

bless

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 10:27am BST

Well, I'm no lawyer, but I sincerely doubt there's any legal duty for an advertiser (in the sense of a newspaper or TfL) to carry every proposed advertisement put to them.

In this case Stonewall's ad had as its intention (however effective it has or hasn't been) to promote the integration of LGB people in society. Anglican Mainstream's ad was a)derivative from Stonewall's and b)designed to undermine the integration of gays into society.

As an example, if TfL carried a poster promoting racial equality this would not then entitle the BNP to do a rip off poster in effect mocking the first group and campaigning against racial equality.

So I doubt the legal case will go anywhere. Then AM will talk about how christians are being persecuted by the law courts and TfL.

AM should be told to .... "get over it!"

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 11:23am BST

In contrast, I assume that plastering TfL buses with an atheist campaign slogan suggesting that faith in God is largely groundless ('There is probably no god') was not deemed to be offensive.

At least, not to the extent that, 'It is clearly offensive to suggest that being gay is an illness'.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 11:59am BST

Craig, for me (and I'm no lawyer in this country), the problem is one of equity. David Shepherd's not wrong if we're talking about giving offence. And for my money, if it's a public forum (arguably TfL), it's different from a newspaper. Under US law, even if it were a non-public forum, like a government-operated prison or a school, then while it would be okay to limit the content of the speech (no fights about abortion), it would not be okay to limit the viewpoint (allowing pro-abortion, but not anti-abortion speech). I like that kind of analysis. And I think it fits here. The ads were designed to mimic gay adverts that said, 'Some people are gay; get over it.' None of this means that they should win. But given my American sensibilities, I'd sure be uncomfortable if the good guys did win without making use of the argument that I advanced above. Like war, litigation is a product of underestimating the viability of one's opponent's position.

Posted by: Scot Peterson on Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 3:02pm BST

I'm pretty sure they'll lose, and we'll get exactly the precise, measured public judgement that it is required.

Posted by: John on Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 7:32pm BST

"There's nowt so litigious as a "Conservative Christian", is there, despite what Jesus had to say about going to law?"

Was it not Apostle Paul that encouraged his brother and sister Christians not to go to law but settle things between themselves?

Since when has Transport for London (as a corporation) or the Mayoralty of London set themselves up as a Christian enterprise - unless, of course, it is claimed that the whole of humanity is universally accepted as the Body of Christ?

Posted by: Helen on Saturday, 14 April 2012 at 10:40pm BST

Yes Helen, and while on the subject of Paul, the Rev Lynda Rose on this morning's Sunday made a hugely risky call on Colin Coward that as an out-gay man he was an inappropriate person to be an Anglican priest. She was not being abusive, she said, merely reflecting scripture. Colin was too much of a gentleman (when he could get a word in) to ask her what she thought about the unalterable word of God when it came to her own position as a priest, reflected by the command that "woman be silent in church" and "not be given positions of leadership". Sauce for the goose was dripping all over it!

Posted by: Tom on Sunday, 15 April 2012 at 9:45am BST

Colin done good this morning. Taking on two of them too !

I also notice a manufactured 'crisis' - Not !

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9204853/Traditionalist-Anglican-leaders-to-meet-over-homosexual-bishops-crisis.html

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Sunday, 15 April 2012 at 1:36pm BST

*** Surely if God wanted me to be str8, God would have made me a lot butcha ?*!

*is that the comparative of butch ?

*** smile ! injection of my appalling sense of humour :)

cf Bird Cage with Robin Williams (That's Robin !) and Nathan Lane

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Sunday, 15 April 2012 at 1:39pm BST

'Some people are gay' is a fact. 'Get over it' is advice. 'Get over being gay' is a quack cure. Since the medical profession decided long ago that being gay was not an illness, that one is not a question. They have also decided that 'gay cures' don't work and can be harmful - that IS the expert opinion, which is the opinion ASA will correctly go on There are minority views (as there are some people who believe in faith-based cures for deadly diseases) but such people are not allowed to advertise these things as cures, because the main body of opinion is that they are quack cures. Minorities can hold opinions but not advertise them as cures without a significant body of opinion behind them. That is how it is for all cures. That is the law.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Sunday, 15 April 2012 at 2:31pm BST

Sorry, Tom, but my comment was merely addressing the point that Christians are discouraged from taking their brother and sister Christians to law, not civic authorities.

Or are you saying that both Colin Coward and Lynda Rose have Boris Johnson and Transport for London in their pockets?

As the updates to this topic have indicated, Transport for London did not act in good faith towards AM/Core Issues by accepting their ads for publication and then refusing to display them - whoever was responsible for that decision. Any expenses incurred by AM/Core Issues should be refunded - and this should be referee'd by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Posted by: helen on Sunday, 15 April 2012 at 3:32pm BST

Behind the bus slogans is a vilification of gay and lesbian people: they are vilified as sick, an abomination, and in the discourse their 'unnaturalness' is frequently equated with paedophilia and bestiality.

This is the mindset we're dealing with, and the motive and thinking behind the anodyne wording of the slogan.

It's like if the BNP wanted a slogan on buses "People who've immigrated here would find it quite nice if they went back home."

The mindsets in both cases are hugely unacceptable in a City - my city where I live - where there is so much tolerance and diversity, so much mature and rational striving for safe and open lives, free of racism or homophobia.

To blazon these slogans on buses is to threaten that safety, to imply aome mandate for racist or homophobic views, to vilify, to other, to make our community less safe.

And the vilification that lies behind the slogans is, in our communities, here in London, frankly sickening and has no place.

It's completely out of order. Such theology should be expressed and indulged in, inside church buildings, though I fear, those churches themselves run the risk of becoming ghettos of prejudice, anti-science, and contempt for ordinary people's loving and faithful relationships and an intelligent, caring society that has 'grown up' and embraced gay people's love as legitimate, decent and lovely.

Posted by: Susannah on Sunday, 15 April 2012 at 4:45pm BST

Just curious, but would other quacks be able to advertise on buses? E.g. Would chiropractors? Would homeopathic practitioners? Or Feng Shui-ists promising to put crystals in strategic locations in your home?

Is the problem that the the gay cure--which I admit is ridiculous--is a fake or is it that it's a conservative fake rather than an approved upper middle class fashionable fake?

Posted by: baber on Sunday, 15 April 2012 at 11:58pm BST

'…TFL found they had breached two clauses of their advertising code: firstly that it was “likely to cause widespread or serious offence to members of the public” and secondly that it contained “messages which relate to matters of public controversy and sensitivity”.'

Right, so no more atheist bus ads, then? Surely those ads, also, were clearly in violation of these two clauses of the TFL advertising code.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Monday, 16 April 2012 at 12:48am BST

Jolly comments from Tim and Harriet.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 16 April 2012 at 10:00am BST

Well, Helen, if you want to take that route, Paul's even clearer: God put civic authorities over us - submit.

Let's stop the Paulolatry, please. He wasn't God, and only spoke for Him by Paul's insistence. Sometimes he got it right, very often he got it wrong.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 at 5:37am BST

Helen, you are right, they should not have accepted it in the first place and if AM have lost money perhaps they are due for a refund. In the meantime whoever accepted the ad needs to answer questions. But my point was really about the radio interview and I was taking your reference to Paul in the sense that he was being ignored by Ms Rose while she was privileging Leviticus and other parts of Paul that suited her.

Posted by: Tom on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 at 11:11am BST

Mark - you really ought to believe in the Holy Spirit - He is living - He is the one that transforms us. If you dont believe in Him you will never believe that anyone can be transformed by God in any sense: we are therefore reduced to saving ourselves. He is the one speaking through Paul.

Posted by: David Wilson on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 at 5:35pm BST

Mark you do need to study Paul more, if you think you can dismiss his words (around 1/3 of the new testament) as only being inspired by God, at Paul's insistence, because Paul said he was God's apostle. How can you say Paul often got it wrong. I cannot understand this comment. Even today believers find the Holy Spirit gives them words to speak.

Posted by: David Wilson on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 at 8:38pm BST

"Even today believers find the Holy Spirit gives them words to speak." David Wilson

If you are the DavidW who posts on the Fulcrum forum, then you seem quite prepared to rubbish these "words" - and the people who speak them - if they don't align exactly with your understanding of scripture.

If you are not the same David W, then I retract the above and apologise for my error.

Posted by: Laurence C. on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 at 5:50pm BST

I have *studied* - as opposed to merely "read" - Paul, David Wilson, and I do believe in the Spirit, which is how I can discern where Paul is right and where he is wrong. I don't "dismiss" him (please, please, PLEASE stop reading your own agenda into what I've written! First I'm promoting African animism, now dismissing the Bible!), but I don't worship him, putting him and his words on a level, or even above, the words we have from Jesus.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 19 April 2012 at 4:46am BST

I've heard that 'Fulcrum 'survives according to the maxim: "Half a loaf is better than no bread". Still, that's probably better than being accused of not being: 'The Full-Quid'

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 19 April 2012 at 11:07am BST

When one begins to pull a thread in the name of the 'real Jesus' or 'real NT' or 'real Gospel' (it's in the red-letter words of Jesus), the entire fabric unravels. So, Marcion had a bit of Luke and Galatians. At least his heretical position understood that to separate (a minimized) 'Jesus' from a (minimized) 'Paul' made no sense. His Gospel and Apostle conception was necessary because Paul had visions, and he believed in 'spiritual' insight of a new kind on analogy, not written down in the NT. Here, presumably, is Brunson's 'spirit.'

The nineteenth century 'red letter' NT was a technological innovation that allowed publishers to make a lot of money. 'Just give me the words of Jesus' is a false trail on the right-wing, and equally so on the left.

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Thursday, 19 April 2012 at 2:06pm BST

I find myself agreeing with the last post from the Revd Dr Prof Seitz.

Doubtless a trifle uncomfortable for us both.

;-)

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Thursday, 19 April 2012 at 8:51pm BST

Yet, that is all we have - definitively - of Christ's teaching, so it must trump all we have - definitively - of Paul's teaching where the two conflict.

It isn't theology, it's simple logic.

Seitz's presumptions are based entirely in his own agenda to paint others who disagree as heretics. I do agree that what we discern as "the Spirit" can be our own desires and errors - we've frequently seen that in those who get through to ordination, for instance.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 20 April 2012 at 4:56am BST

Sorry, just reporting what the catholic consensus of the church is regarding the canon. Paul and Christ are not 'in conflict' in the very nature of the case. Christ called Paul.

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Friday, 20 April 2012 at 2:25pm BST

1. Jesus’ words on ascension as recounted by His martyred eye-witness apostle: 'He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:6 - 7)

2. Paul (another eye-witness martyr of Christ) has all of his letters accorded scriptural status by Peter (another martyr of Christ): 'Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.' (2 Pet. 3:15.16)

But let's not believe eye-witness testimony, whether Jesus' recorded assurance to the apostles, nor Peter's assurance regarding all of Paul's letters when superior religion and reasoning is on hand.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Friday, 20 April 2012 at 8:37pm BST
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