17 October 2013
Gay group flouts court ruling on bus ads
Gay pressure group Stonewall has ignored a recent ruling from the High Court by re-running adverts on London buses which violate Transport for London (TfL) guidelines.
In March 2013 Mrs Justice Lang ruled that the adverts, which read Some people are gay. Get over it!, “did not comply with TfL’s own restrictions which prohibit advertisements ‘likely to cause widespread or serious offence.’”
After the judgment was released, Stonewall’s chief executive Ben Summerskill said in a radio interview with BBC Radio 5Live that he had “read [the judgment] carefully”.
Despite the judgment and Mr Summerskill’s comments, Stonewall has arranged for the same adverts to appear on the side of London buses during the month of October. The adverts are also on buses in other parts of the country as part of a nationwide campaign.
Mrs Justice Lang’s judgment was issued in the first case of Core Issues Trust v Transport for London.
In April 2012 Core Issues Trust, a Christian charity, attempted to have an advert displayed in response to Stonewall’s campaign. The Trust works with men and women who voluntarily seek assistance to move away from homosexual practice and feelings, where possible and appropriate. The proposed advert read Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!
TfL refused to run the Core Issues Trust poster yet has now approved the Stonewall posters for the second time, even though the High Court’s judgment said that the Stonewall adverts breach TfL’s own guidelines.
Mrs Justice Lang granted leave to appeal after the hearing in March. The Core Issues Trust v Transport for London case will go before the Master of the Rolls on 9 and/or 10 December 2013.
Core Issues Trust is now seeking an emergency judicial review of TfL’s decision to allow Stonewall’s adverts to be run. They will be seeking an interim injunction pending the hearing in December to prevent the adverts from being displayed on the buses. The Christian Legal Centre is supporting Core Issues Trust.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, explained why this action is being taken:
“Stonewall’s actions show a blatant disregard for the law. The High Court’s judgment in March was clear that Stonewall’s adverts were offensive and should not be displayed on the buses. To then go and put them on buses again before the Master of the Rolls has settled the matter is provocative and shows that Stonewall thinks it is above and beyond the law.
“Stonewall knew about the judgment and yet still proceeded to try and dominate the debate with its posters.
“Stonewall has a track record of using the law and the decisions of the courts to push its own agenda. But when a court makes a decision which is not to Stonewall’s liking, as in this case, it ploughs on regardless with its agenda, showing contempt for the rule of law in the process.
“TfL has aided and abetted Stonewall in this. TfL was also aware of the ruling that the adverts did not comply with its own guidelines and yet allowed them on buses for a second time.
“In the face of Stonewall’s provocative actions we have decided to take this step and seek a judicial review and injunction.”
Notes for editors
To view Mrs Justice Lang’s March 2013 judgment (highlighted), follow this link: http://www.christianconcern.com/sites/default/files/docs/Core%20Issues%20Judgment%2022%20March%202013%20highlighted.pdf
To listen to Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill’s interview on BBC Radio 5Live, in which he states he has read the earlier judgment “carefully”, follow this link: http://www.christianconcern.com/media/bbc-5-live-mike-davidson-on-bus-advert-decision
To watch Stonewall’s Andy Wasley discuss the judgment on BBC World, follow this link: http://www.christianconcern.com/media/bbc-world-news-dr-mike-davidson-discusses-judgment-in-bus-adverts-case
For further information on Stonewall’s current nationwide bus advert campaign, please read its recent press release: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/media/current_releases/9267.asp