Libel On The Buses


Recently a poster promoting equality and financed by Stonewall ran on the sides of London buses. It said; ‘Some people are gay. Get over it!’ The campaign has been running around the world for quite some time.

Now a far-right Christian group who copied the ads with an anti-gay campaign set to run on London buses has had the campaign banned by the Mayor. Suggesting that sexual orientation is a curable sickness, the ads read; ‘Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!’ Apart from feeling that it unconsciously mimics dialogue from the Monty Python dead parrot sketch, I’m not inclined to take much notice of this, being of the opinion that the advert has not yet been created that can affect anyone’s opinion.

To me, posters are a faintly irritating but virtually invisible part of life, like flies. The trouble with this one is that it was backed by the Core Issues Trust whose leader, Mike Davies, believes “homoerotic behaviour is sinful”. His charity funds “reparative therapy” for gay Christians who want to be turned straight. The campaign is backed by Anglican Mainstream, a worldwide orthodox Anglican group whose supporters equate homosexuality with alcoholism.

Well, freedom of speech is important in any democracy, but surely there was a clearer case of libel here? (Yes, my research into libel cases is still going strong). The Christian groups used the same black, red and white colour scheme and similar typeface to Stonewall to create confusion and damage the charity, whom it still accuses of promoting the “false idea that there is indisputable scientific evidence that people are born gay”.

It’s interesting that it took the Mayor to make a stand, after the toothless ASA did nothing, as usual.

7 comments on “Libel On The Buses”

  1. Gretta says:

    I’ve not seen any pro/anti-Gay bus ads, but there was a bit of a stink a year or two back about atheist ads.

    One of my favourite Gay/Church retorts was several general elections ago when the Christian Heritage Party were in existence and were regularly taking pops at the Gay community for unnatural behaviour, polluting the minds of innocent children, yada yada(this was before the CHP leader was convicted for being a nonce, obviously). Overnight a section of the Lesbian Avengers went around and daubed the CHP’s billboards with the words ‘We Recruit!’ in lavendar coloured paint.

  2. Gretta says:

    Okay, have just read the piece in The Guardian about this. Firstly, what would happen if the bus drivers refuse to drive those particular buses? And secondly…

    “The Rev Lynda Rose, a spokesperson for the UK branch of Anglican Mainstream said because her group adheres to scripture that all fornication outside marriage is prohibited, it believes that homosexuals are “not being fully the people God intended us to be”.”

    …makes me incredibly sweary on so many levels I don’t know where to start, so I won’t. I will simply say ‘Argh!’, and leave it at that.

  3. Dan Terrell says:

    And so it goes. On and on.
    So much energy expended, so much money spent, so much time lost, and then it all begins again: treat women as less than men, treat people of color as aliens, treat the poor as less than the well off, treat members of other political parties as un-xxxxxx (British, American, German, Japanese, or whereever), treat believers, the differently believing and all non-believers as the enemy, and so it goes…
    So much negativity, so little positivity, so few days in a life. Want to bet everyone of us tastes like chicken?

  4. Jon R says:

    No, it could not be libel. You might be thinking of trademark infringement, but it’s hard too see how it could be that either.

  5. admin says:

    Thanks Jon – I’ve been reading too many old libel books which suggest that by appearing to be similar aspersions are cast.

  6. Helen Martin says:

    The similarity in layout, wording and colour indicates an intentional connection but it is merely expressing the opposite viewpoint. It’s nonsense, of course, and could be ignored as such if people holding the opinion weren’t prepared to intrude in others’ lives in order to ‘save’ them. Posters do influence opinion, Admin, if only by the water on the stone principle. Remember the theory of the Big Lie.

  7. Joel Kosminsky says:

    Hi – ‘posters don’t change minds’? Most adverts ARE crap but rarely some hit home. I was an inmate trainee with BOAC from the late 60s: 747s were coming and how the (several expletives deleted) would we fill them when no-one then could fill a VC10 or 707? Do you remember the 1970 ‘Earthshrinkers’ campaign? That campaign worked (I was involved in the research which led to it), but it backfired on BOAC in the most unexpected way…

    The ‘toothless ASA’ can’t be pro-active – they have to wait until someone complains or seeks their advice… That so few ads change minds or attitudes leaves everyone the lasting question of what’s the point of them… In this case, like most people, you see an ad but take no notice of anything designed to annoy you. The world is full of fools who think they know better than the rest of us.

    TfL, and its predecessors LRT and London Transport have ALWAYS had clear rules on acceptable adverts – from the airlines I moved to what was LRT so I do know this. The timing of the ban is critical; TfL would have known a LONG time ago that this campaign could not run.

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