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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has launched an investigation into an advert from Christian groups in The Times newspaper last month which described new gay equality laws as an attack on “conscience.”

It called on the government to include an opt out in the new Sexual Orientation Regulations.

The gay community reacted with outrage after a group of Christian leaders calling themselves Coherent and Cohesive Voice, placed an advert in the newspaper claiming the legislation will “force” a bed and breakfast to supply a room to a transsexual and will make schools promote civil partnerships.

Gay Labour Peer, Lord Chris Smith, was shocked at the advertisement.

An ASA spokesperson told PinkNews.co.uk that there have been 38 complaints.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay charity Stonewall, who led the campaign for the regulations, described the advert as “desperate.” He told PinkNews.co.uk: “I think it’s a sign of an increasing desperation that these individuals have had to resort to a string of lies.”

Deputy Minister for Equality, Meg Munn, criticised “wild speculation” from religious groups regarding the law, due to be introduced in Northern Ireland in the New Year, and in April 2007 in the rest of the UK.

It comes after the religious sect, Christian Voice, led a campaign against a Gay Police Association advert in the summer which linked homophobic attacks to religious beliefs.

The ASA investigation will take around 6 weeks.