Transport for London has said that the ‘Some People are Ex-Gay! Get Over it!’ bus advertisements booked by religious groups will not be allowed to be displayed anywhere on London transport’s network. It responded following social media uproar following PinkNews.co.uk revealing the advertising campaign earlier today.
In a statement, posted on Twitter it said: “Anglican Mainstream ad just brought to our attention and will not run on London’s bus or transport networks. We don’t believe these ads reflect TfL’s commitment to a tolerant and inclusive London.”
Boris Johnson, the Conservative politician running for re-election as Mayor of London said: “London is one of the most tolerant cities in the world and intolerant of intolerance. It is clearly offensive to suggest that being gay is an illness that someone recovers from and I am not prepared to have that suggestion driven around London on our buses.”
MayorWatch reports that Transport for London said the responsibility for approving the advertisement rested with display ad agency CBSO and that CBSO had used TFL’s ad policy to decide on whether to approve it. TFL said it “reserve[s] the right to overrule them if we do not agree with their interpretation as in this case.”
After PinkNews.co.uk broke the news of the advertisement, thousands of people took to Twitter and Facebook to complain. Other news websites including The Guardian subsequently reported the story.
The campaign was designed to have responded to Stonewall’s current bus advertising campaign in favour of gay equality with a campaign of their own, defending the view that gay people can become straight.
A spokesperson for Anglican Mainstream and the Core Issues Trust had earlier told PinkNews.co.uk that 26 buses on a handful of routes would carry the ‘Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!’ banner around London for two weeks starting on Monday.
Stonewall said it was “delighted by TfL’s clear commitment to diversity” when it announced it would not run the ‘ex-gay’ messages.
Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone said that the advertisements “promote a falsehood, the homophobic idea of ‘therapy’ to change the sexual orientation of lesbians and gay men. The adverts are insulting to LGBT Londoners and damaging for everyone who believes London is the greatest city in the world because of its tolerance.”
Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate, Brian Paddick said: “From personal experience as a gay Christian, I can tell you that it’s much better to be out than in. We should be celebrating the diversity for which London is known for, not denegrating it.”
The original notice from Anglican Mainstream and the Core Issues Trust said Stonewall’s current bus campaign “implies the false idea that there is indisputable scientific evidence that people are ‘born gay’, and that they have no choice but to affirm their homosexual feelings”.
It described Stonewall’s iconic ‘Some people are gay. Get over it!’ slogan devised by Simon Gage as an “attempt to close down critical debate about being gay and marriage ‘equality’” and said the “promotion of homosexual practices to children and young people, many of whom are known to experience ambivalence as they sort through issues of sexual identity, is misleading and dangerous”.
While it “recognise the rights of individuals to identify as gay”, it says “married men and women unhappy with their homosexuality should be supported in developing their heterosexual potential, where this is the appropriate life choice for them”.
Dr Mike Davidson, Director of Core Issues Trust, said of Stonewall’s original bus advertising: “Their campaign rides roughshod over individuals who by conscience reject the simplistic notion that their choice to move out of homosexuality is because of internalised prejudice taught by society, completely ignoring the profound effect on sexual identity, established by highly respected scientific study, of childhood experience.”
Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream, added: “The current political debate surrounding the redefinition of marriage ignores not just the cultural base of this institution that lies at the heart of our society, but seems entirely to have forgotten about children, prioritising adult sexualities at their expense in an unprecedented way.”
Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill said: “It’s sad that any self-styled “Christian” group promotes voodoo “gay cure therapy”, which has been discredited by the BACP, the UK’s leading professional body for counselling psychotherapists. Life would be much easier if these organisations just admitted that they don’t like gay people.”
PinkNews.co.uk spoke to Anglican Mainstream’s Reverend Lynda Rose this afternoon who said it was “misleading” to “imply” they did not like gay people, but that the scriptures “prohibit fornication outside marriage”.
She said while people were “free to choose” homosexuality, those with unwanted attraction to people of their own gender should “should be free to seek help if they want”.
She added: “We are all growing and the Bible is a guidebook on how to achieve our full potential [...] Being caught up exclusively with sexuality prevents people from reaching that potential.”
PinkNews.co.uk asked Rev Rose about Dr Sugden’s claim that adult sexuality was being “prioritised” at the expense of children and whether this was a scientific or faith-based argument. She said there was “lots of research showing children grow best having father and mother role models”.
Of the suggestion that it is not a widely held view among psychologists that gay couples are unable to provide similarly adequate parenting, Rev Rose said there was a separate, “internal” issue regarding children who are separated from their genetic background.
They may, she said, become “disturbed or damaged” and a gay couple could provide “a loving environment but not the male and female role models we need to determine who we are”.
The Core Issues Trust, which has collaborated with Anglican Mainstream on the bus adverts, was behind the ‘Gay lepers’ conference held earlier this year in Belfast and London. The group said it disagreed with the way leprosy sufferers were shunned in biblical times and compared that with how people with “conflicted in religious and sexual identity” are treated now.
A statement by the Trust ahead of its Belfast conference said it “recognises the fundamental human rights of the LGBT community to live in partnerships that are happy, fulfilled and respected. It acknowledges that Christians have different understandings of the teachings on the bible around human sexuality.
“It reserves the right to offer alternative orthodox views to those who choose to prioritise a religious identity over a sexual identity, or when these identities collide.”
At the time, Professor Andrew Samuels, chair of the UK Council for Psychotherapy said: “Every responsible organisation in the field of psychotherapy, counselling and mental health has expressed extreme concern at the practice of therapy intended to change sexual orientation. Such attempts are profoundly unethical, don’t work, and exploit the undeniable difficulties people from sexual minorities experience in our society.
“It is vital that people don’t get fooled by expressions of love and support for gays and lesbians emanating from the Core Issues Trust.”
The council’s current statement on the issue says: “UKCP does not consider homosexuality or bisexuality, or transsexual and transgendered states to be pathologies, mental disorders or indicative of developmental arrest. These are not symptoms to be treated by psychotherapists, in the sense of attempting to change or remove them.
“It follows that no responsible psychotherapist will attempt to ‘convert’ a client from homosexuality to heterosexuality.”
This week, Dr Robert Spitzer publicly requested the retraction of a study he authored in 2001 which has been used to give weight to claims that ex-gay therapies work, saying it could “be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more”.