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

Monday, February 25, 2013
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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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