A range of groups have welcomed today’s ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority that an advert by a homophobic Christian group was inaccurate and misleading.
A group of Christian leaders calling themselves Coherent and Cohesive Voice used the advert to urge people to write to then-Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly and Equality Minister Meg Munn to oppose the Sexual Orientation Regulations.
The advert claimed that the legislation would “force” a bed and breakfast to supply a room to a transsexual and make schools promote civil partnerships.
It also incorrectly asserted that the SORs represented an “act against freedom of conscience.”
The Gender Trust, the Fire Brigades Union and the Civil Service Rainbow Alliance all complained to the ASA about the advert, which ran in The Times and the Parliamentary title The House Magazine in November last year.
Oliver Entwistle, Head of the Civil Service Rainbow Alliance, told PinkNews.co.uk:
“I welcome the ruling of the Advertising Standards Authority that this advert was ‘inaccurate and misleading.’
“The advert clearly misrepresented the Government’s legislation and painted an inaccurate picture of the impact of the regulations.
“I hope that Coherent and Cohesive Voice, who placed the advert, will now reflect on the reasons for this ruling and resist publishing factually incorrect material in the future.”
Stuart Brown from the Fire Brigades Union told PinkNews.co.uk:
“We are delighted that the ASA has upheld our complaint.
“Their line was wrong, and we felt the wording was misleading. We worked against organisations that wanted to put a bar on the SORs.
“We have been working hard on this for a number of years as part of the fight for equality.”
Alan Wardle, head of public and parliamentary affairs at gay equality organisation Stonewall said:
“We are pleased the ASA has upheld the complaint. It is noticeable that one of the breaches was on the grounds of truthfulness.
“It would seem this group of Christians are not familiar with the ninth commandment.
“Perhaps they should spend more time in Bible study, rather than persecuting gay people.”
Richard Kirker, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said he was delighted:
“All those who took the trouble to complain have been vindicated. If the incoherent and disunited Christians behind this advert had any integrity they would offer an apology and a donation to charity.”
Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society commented: “We are extremely pleased that this advertisement has been shown to be misleading.
“There is an increasing tendency among evangelical religious groups to exaggerate and panic-monger when fighting campaigns.
“It is incumbent on everyone dealing with legislation that involves serious social reform with big impacts on the rights of vulnerable minorities – in this instance gay people – to be careful, objective and truthful.”
Cliff James, The Secretary of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, also welcomed the ruling:
“The appalling advert was part of a propaganda campaign by evangelical Christians to create panic and sabotage the equality agenda,” he said.
“These extremists turned ethics upside down – making prejudice and lies into a virtue, and tolerance and truth into a vice. The ASA ruling means that evangelicals will think twice now before resorting to such alarmist tactics in the future.”