The Gay Police Association (GPA) has expressed outrage at the decision of an advertising watchdog that it had insufficient evidence to back up a controversial advert linking religious beliefs to homophobic attacks.
The Advertising Standards Authority yesterday ruled that the advert which appeared in the diversity supplement of The Independent to coincide with EuroPride last July may have caused offence to Christians and the statistics in the advert had not yet been verified.
The decision relates to an advert placed by the GPA which said: “In the last 12 months, the GPA has recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator.”
The advert displayed a pool of blood next to a Bible and attracted over 500 complaints from Christian groups such as the Evangelical Alliance and Christian Voice who claimed that it promoted religious hatred.
Considering the advert yesterday, the ASA upheld claims that the imagery and text may cause offence to Christian readers and criticised using images of blood as not all the offences mentioned may have involved violence.
The regulator also said it had not seen enough evidence to support the statistics quoted in the advert, a claim which Kevin Boyle from the GPA denies.
He told PinkNews.co.uk: “The GPA never refused to supply any material, we made it clear to the ASA that as there was a criminal investigation underway so we could not supply the material.”
Last month the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that it would not be pursuing a prosecution against the GPA, but an internal investigation is continuing.
Mr Boyle went on to accuse right wing Christian groups of fuelling opposition to the advert and said the ruling should reflect what consumers think, not anti-gay campaigners.
The ASA did however reject claims that the advert fuelled prejudice against Christians.
Its ruling said: “We told the GPA to ensure future campaigns were not presented in a way that could cause undue offence and also reminded them that they should ensure the use of imagery did not send misleading messages to consumers.
“We asked them to ensure any statistics could be substantiated and reminded them to show supporting data to the ASA upon request.”
However, Mr Boyle said the GPA would be unable to fulfil that request, “We are certainly not going to abide by the ruling that we should make sure our adverts do not offend people, one persons idea of offence is another’s idea of freedom of expression.”
The GPA is now planning to appeal.
The controversial advert which appeared in The Independent supplement