Kicking A Lion

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ASA placed church on trial over homophobic ad, claims clergyman

Belfast:  The Minister of the Sandown Free Presbyterian Church has accused the Advertising Standards Authority of putting the church on trial after it found it had breached advertising codes for an ad it placed in a local newspaper earlier this year.


In August the Belfast Telegraph reported that several complaints had been lodged with the watchdog about a full page 540-word ad which had been placed by the church in the News Letter the day before the annual Gay Pride Parade.

The ad described homosexuality as an abomination, defined homosexuals as perverts and called on religious followers to maintain a very public stance against the gay community in defiance of the parade which it claimed celebrated a “profitable lifestyle”.

The ad appeared on Friday, August 1, following months of controversy surrounding comments made by DUP MP Iris Robinson. The ASA said it received seven complaints from individuals who thought the advertisement was homophobic and was likely to provoke hatred and violence against the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Following a four month investigation, the body concluded that the advertisement was indeed homophobic and therefore breached clause 5.1 of the CAP Code (decency). However, it said the advertisement was unlikely to provoke hatred or violence.

It has ordered that the ad not appear in its current form again and requested the church seek advice or approval from the body before publishing any other ads of that nature.

The Rev David McIlveen said that while he was pleased the ASA had upheld the church’s position that it did not promote hatred or violence he disputed it breached the decency clause. He argued that the church had the right to print the ad because someone had displayed a placard saying Jesus was a homosexual at last year’s Gay Pride parade.

“They treated this as a trial,” he told the Belfast Telegraph last night. “In an effort to show that we have breached that code they highlighted the text we used from Leviticus Ch 18 v 22. Our determination from that is that you can not quote scripture because it is deemed as offensive. Well, we see this as a serious offence.”

Mr McIlveen also defended the language used in the ad saying that people in Northern Ireland would be “familiar” with it in light of the long-running radio debate over the summer. He also questioned the ASA’s credibility, arguing that seven complaints did not mean a majority of readers.

A spokeswoman from the ASA defended its decision saying that the body only needs one complaint to launch an investigation and can make a ruling based on this one complaint. She said this was to prevent further offence if the ad had deemed to be offensive.

By Emily Moulton

Written by kickingalion

December 3, 2008 at 12:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

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