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…