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London Bus Adverts and New Statesman Advertorial Bannings

"Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!"

From 1 April 2012, 1,000 London buses carried adverts from the advocacy charity group Stonewall (Ltd) promoting equal marriage with the slogan "Some people are gay. Get over it!" The advert was clearly designed to reinforce the notion that homosexuality, or "gayness" is innate and immutable.

A Stonewall spokesman Andy Wasley said: "It is fantastic that no adverts will be promoting 'voodoo, gay-cure therapy' in London," a clear reference to therapeutic work which individuals have the right to access to reduce homosexual feelings and behaviours. Our own posters supported by Anglican Mainstream (AM) and Core Issues Trust (CIT) read: "Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it", and mirrored Stonewall's advert.  Our adverts attested to the reality for many individuals who experience homosexual feelings but don't identify with the socio-political identity of "Gay" - a late, twentieth century political construction.

The adverts were  booked for two weeks by AM and CIT to display on vehicles running on five routes in central London, including top tourist destinations such as St Paul's Cathedral, Oxford Street, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. But Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, a supporter of the Conservative determination to force gay marriage through UK legislation, accused the Core Issues Trust advert of teaching that being gay was an illness and therefore "clearly offensive". He added that he was "not prepared to have that suggestion driven around London on our buses", although has now claimed he was not involved in the decision to ban the advert.

Our slogan, "Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!", refers to the multiple responses that individuals may have to homosexual feelings or experiences.

Some have never acted on their feelings, and have never identified as or referred to themselves as "gay", and are therefore "not gay". 

Others have walked away from the gay lifestyle for various reasons - including dissatisfaction with it - and call themselves "ex-gay". Others, wanting to escape controversial and redundant binary discourses that claim human sexuality has only two, or at most three poles (gay, Bi and straight), refer to themselves as "post-gay". Human sexuality in this model is fluid and innately changeable.

Gay activists and politicians promoting gay marriage as a means of curbing promiscuity known to undermine fidelity in many gay relationships, refuse to acknowledge these distinctions.

"There's probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life" is another  bus advertisment aiming to promote values many may find offensive, yet was not banned.

Created by comedian Ariane Sherine, it was launched 21 October 2008, with unofficial support from the British Humanist Association and Richard Dawkins, author of the "God Delusion".

The wording of the advert caused considerable debate amongst atheists and Christians alike and Sherine discussed it in a post-launch article, "Probably the best atheist bus campaign ever", on the Guardian's "Comment Is Free" section.

OECD Intervention, Warsaw, 2012

Freedom of speech to articulate alternative, non-affirming responses to homosexuality is an important right to be protected.

Invited Advertorials Banned by New Statesman (October, 2012)

Apology from New Statesman: 1 October, 2012. Statement issued by CIT 2 October, 2012

Also in April 2012, at the peak of the bus campaign, advertising salesmen representing the magazine popular among the left on the political spectrum, The New Statesman, approached Core Issues Trust for the purpose of promoting its views in the magazine.

The trust was invited to provide three 700 word "advertorials" for the three "conference" editions of the magazine, produced concurrently with the LibDem, Labour Party and Conservative Conferences in September and October, 2012. In addition, the magazine offered to produce 100,000 leaderboards on their website during the conference period, promoting the booklet "The Right to Decide: Seeking Justice for Choices Around Same-Sex Attractions".

The agreed cost of the advertorials, including the leaderboard promotion, was £3,000. After considerable discussion, its was clear that high-level editorial control would not consider the original submission advertorials and the magazine provided a template for the proposed advertorials - not reduced to adverts with little distinction between the three. The trust has now refused to make full payment, since the contract was not fulfilled.

  

Advert 1: Liberal Democrat Edition, 19th September 2012 - approved.

Original submission: 'Non-Monogamy: How gay will "save" marraige' - rejected.

  

Advert 2: Labour Party Edition, 4th October 2012

Original submission: "Speaking up and Speaking Out: What Mr Blair Didn't Tell the Nation" -rejected.

Repeated requests for information about the agreed leaderboard advertisments were ignored, or promised within "the next few days" - but never materialised. Four tickets promised to the New Statesman event at the Labour Conference were also not forth coming.

Shortly before print dates for the final advert, in the Conservative edition, Core Issues Trust was informed that the magazine was not going to print the advert to avoid offence to its readers. Interestingly, both Liberal Democrat and Labour Party readers were judged able to tolerate these perspectives - but not conservative readers.

Shortly after submission of the first advertorial, New Statesman editorial staff reneged on the notion of "advertorials", providing instead a template and considerably redacted versions. An apology by the New Statesman was issued the following day, to the readers to felt had been offended.

Questions remain as to why they didn't think of this when approaching the Trust during the London Bus Campaign!

In addition, there are several worrying issues about the closedown on debate around homosexuality in the UK, reflected in both the Bus campaign and New Statesman experiences. Clearly issues around homosexuality may not be discussed openly.  Why is this?

Interestingly, media interest in the Bus campaign brought Sky News to Northern Ireland to undertake a live news slot with CIT co-director Mike Davidson, and Andy Wasley (Stonewall) in the London studio. Despite a viable video link, (Group Behind Ads Mulls Legal Action) according to the attending technician, Mike Davidson was prevented from responding to Andy Wasley's charge of "Gay Cure" and accusations of "Voodoo therapy" in the live programme.(Note the above video link)

Repeated and frequent headline captions about "Gay Cure" misrepresent the aims and activities of Core Issues trust.


  

Advert 3: Conservative Party Edition, 11 October, 2012

Oringinal Submission: "Not 'what's in a name' but 'what's in the substance' " - rejected