The body tasked with policing the rules laid down in the advertising codes has said it will not be investigating an advert that featured a gay kiss.
The Advertising Standards Authority received 215 complaints about the Heinz Deli Mayo ad, featuring two men kissing.
Heinz decided to pull the TV advert on Friday 20th June after receiving complaints.
An ASA spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk:
“The complaints were put to the ASA Council to take a decision about whether the complaints should be formally investigated.
“Council decided that the advertisement should not be formally investigated.
“Council considered that whilst some viewers may have personal objections to any portrayal of same-sex kissing, there was nothing in the content of the advertisement that would constitute a breach of the TV Advertising Code.”
The leader of the Lib Dems has criticised Heinz for deciding to withdraw the ad.
“The sight of two men kissing affectionately should not be considered offensive or controversial,” he said.
“The decision to withdraw (the ad) has not only offended many gay, lesbian, transgender – and straight – people, it also represents a backward step in attempts to combat homophobia in Britain today, not to mention a collective loss of humour.”
Two Early Day Motions have been tabled in the House of Commons.
“That this House regrets Heinz’s decision to withdraw its television advert featuring two men kissing because of homophobic complaints and considers the scenes portrayed were in no way offensive or indecent;” said an EDM by Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone, “believes footage displaying affection between two people of the same sex should be treated in the same way as two people of the opposite sex; and calls for the company to resume its advertising campaign as planned.”
Eight MPs have signed her EDM, which was tabled on Monday, and 17 have signed a similarly-worded motion tabled by Labour MP Dianne Abbott last week.
Gay equality organisation Stonewall has called on consumers to boycott Heinz products.
Chief executive Ben Summerskill said Heinz’s knee-jerk reaction to an “orchestrated campaign of complaints” was short-sighted and discriminatory.
“If the ad showed a black couple, and people complained, I very much doubt they would withdraw it,” he told PinkNews.co.uk.