Friday, 13 April 2012

Mayor of London bans "gay cure" bus ads

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The controversial slogan has now been
banned from London's buses
Yesterday afternoon, I blogged on how two conservative Christian groups, Anglican Mainstream and the Core Issues Trust, had booked advertising space on London buses for an ad promoting the notion of "gay cure therapy". The ads, featuring the slogan “Not gay! Post-gay and proud. Get over it”, were designed to counter a recent campaign by the gay rights group Stonewall, which has seen London buses displaying the words "Some people are gay. Get over it!".

News of the Christian campaign, which was due to start next Monday, quickly sparked controversy online and, just hours after the story had broken, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced that he was banning the ads from London's buses.

Speaking to the Guardian, Johnson 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."
While many have welcomed the news, it has also prompted a debate over censorship, and not just among those who support the Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues Trust message. Speaking to the Independent, Padraig Reidy, News Editor of Index on Censorship (and a former Deputy Editor of New Humanist), expressed concern about the ban:
“There is an increasing rush at the moment by people demanding anything which they find unpleasant should be immediately banned, deleted or removed. We’re closing down any trace of controversy or debate within public discourse and that is extremely dangerous.”
What do you think? Are you happy to see this controversial message banned from London's streets, or are such bans on contentious advertising detrimental to free speech? Share your views in the comments.

Update: the Independent is now reporting that Anglican Mainstream and the Core Issues Trust are exploring legal options following Johnson's ban.
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