“Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!” This was the advert due to run on London buses which has been blocked by London Mayor Boris Johnson.
It promoted gay conversion therapy and was backed by the Core Issues Trust whose leader, Mike Davidson, believes “homoerotic behaviour is sinful”. His charity funds “reparative therapy” for gay Christians who believe that they have homosexual feelings, but want to become straight.
The campaign, which was due to appear on 25 different buses over a two-week period, was also backed by Anglican Mainstream, a worldwide orthodox Anglican group whose supporters have equated homosexuality with alcoholism.
CBS Outdoor, the media company that sells the bus advertising sites, said the Committee of Advertising Practice had passed the ad for display and it complied with Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines.
The Mayor of London said: “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.”
Ken Livingstone, Mr Johnson’s mayoral rival, argued that the issue was an “indication of the weakness of London Tory political leadership when it comes to promoting LGBT equality”.
Johnson ditched the advertising campaign using his discretionary authority as chair of TfL. However, the story of the controversial anti-gay advert seems more complicated, as the Christian groups insisted the advert had been cleared with Transport for London (TfL), which is chaired by the mayor.
The medium used by Christian groups’ anti-gay campaign follows a trend among groups hoping to get the public’s attention.
Both religious groups said they bought the advertising space in response to a campaign advocating same-sex marriage from rights group Stonewall, saying: “Some people are gay, get over it”.
Brian Paddick, the Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate, who is gay, said: “We should be celebrating the diversity for which London is known, not denigrating it. As mayor I want to make London a place that is welcoming to all people, including Christians.”