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Christian activists: London mayor’s ban on ‘ex-gay’ ads stifling free speech

Monday, February 25, 2013

LONDON — A christian group that promotes ex-gay therapy is taking the Mayor of London to court this week, alleging he violated their right to free speech when he banned their billboards from London buses and in the city’s transportation hubs.

The advertisements by the group Core Issues Trust, which claimed that gays could be “reoriented” through prayer and therapy, were banned by Mayor Boris Johnson in April 2012.

Johnson called the group’s message “clearly offensive to suggest that being gay is an illness that someone recovers from.”

Competing ads: Stonewall UK’s message (top) that “some people are gay;” Core Issues Trust’s ad (below) that some people are “ex-gay” and proud.

The ads read, “Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!” and were in response to an earlier campaign by Stonewall UK, Britain’s leading LGBT advocacy group, which read, “Some people are gay. Get over it!”

Dr. Mike Davidson, founder of Core Issues Trust, who had his membership in British Psychodrama Association (BPA) revoked over his support for the controversial therapy, told the British press that his supporters will go to London’s High Court to claim that the mayor’s ban of their campaign should be reversed on the grounds that he unlawfully stifled free speech.

Among his responsibilities as mayor, Johnson oversees Transport for London, which is responsible for approving advertising on buses in the city.

Davidson argues that since other advertising campaigns — including Stonewall’s, and campaigns featuring underwear models — have been allowed by Transport for London, including a 2009 British Humanist Association ad, which some Christians found offensive. The ad read: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying. And enjoy your life.”

“This is all about being free to talk about these issues,” said Davidson, who claims has had a homosexual past, but now claims gays can become heterosexual through counseling and prayer.

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Davidson’s case, said the ban on Core Issues’ ads was “the beginning of a kind of reverse discrimination which threatens to obliterate debate in the public sphere.”

A spokesman for Transport of London told The Telegraph that “the advertisement breached TfL’s advertising policy as in our view it contained a publicly controversial message and was likely to cause widespread offense to members of the public.”

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18 more reader comments:

  1. Except that their “speech” is all LIES, FABRICATION AND BIGOTRY!!

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 12:48pm
  2. Technically, yes it is a violation of freedom of speech.
    If people want to lie to themselves, that’s their prerogative. The Government has no right to make them face the reality they’re desperately hiding from.

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 12:50pm
  3. Technically it is a violation of their rights, unless their is a clause in whatever law protects that right limiting hate speech, discrimination, etc. Even then. It sucks he may get in to trouble for doing a good thing.

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 12:52pm
  4. their reason to fight and get their bigot ad on the bus is stupid – when was the last time underwear went around hooking people up to electricity and telling people conform or go to hell

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 12:55pm
  5. I’d have to agree. It’s hate speech but it’s protected.

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 12:56pm
  6. Uhh…Last time I checked hate speech was not protected.

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 12:57pm
  7. Before this group can start blithering on about ‘free speech’ they need a reality check by means of their people being made aware that content of these ads clearly contravene the Equality Act of 2010 because sexuality IS a protected characteristic.

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 12:58pm
  8. if this gets allowed then palestine would be able to put up anti jewish ads in london — in the name of free speech

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 12:59pm
  9. Depends do they have a clause that prohibits hate speech?

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 1:01pm
  10. An easy solution is for someone else to play just a little bit more for the ad space allowing for the agency to break the ad-lease. then again as anyone renting ad space, I would not allow such a thing. Though here in the states I could actually get in trouble for denying my serves to hate mongers.

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 1:05pm
  11. what you do is a violation of medical and natural law, asking for payment to destroy a person’s life and identity. Youre lucky not to be in jail, bub. shutup and stop hate mongering. You have as much as right to free speech as Nazis.

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 1:07pm
  12. “oh no we can’t publicly bash the idea of equality. ” finally shut them up.. I understand free speech rights but I have far more respect for what’s right and preventing bigots and cruelty.

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 1:13pm
  13. christians really need to get the f*ck over it . there are more gay christians and gay people in the vatican and the catholic church than there are fat people like me. so they really need to be slapped

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 1:25pm
  14. So it’s wrong to step on their rights but it’s perfectly fine for them to purposely cause harm to others and step on our rights? Ah hypocrisy, the true Christian way.

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 1:40pm
  15. Don’t think they will get anywhere – nature itself is against them …

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 1:56pm
  16. And THAT is why I still have my British passport thirty years after leaving my hometown of London – they are so damn progressive – proud to call you home!

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 2:39pm
  17. One can be openly gay or closeted gay, but not ex-gay–that just means no longer having gay sex although you still want it.

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 2:53pm
  18. Sexual orientation is decided in the womb; what we do with our sexual desire (or don’t do) is within our control.

    Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 2:56pm