One of Australia’s biggest outdoor advertising companies has reversed its decision to ban billboards promoting safe homosexual sex, just one day after ordering their removal from Brisbane-area bus shelters.
In a statement released Wednesday, Adshel CEO Steve McCarthy stated, “It has now become clear that Adshel has been the target of a coordinated ACL (Australian Christian Lobby) campaign. This has led us to review our decision to remove the campaign and we will therefore reinstate the campaign with immediate effect.”
Billboard operator Adshel was the target of a campaign by the Australian Christian Lobby, which also complained to Brisbane City Council and the Advertising Standards Bureau about the ads, which appeared on bus shelters around the city featuring two men embracing and the tagline “Rip & Roll” promoting condom use. The campaign had been created by the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities in a public awareness exercise.
After a series of direct complaints from members of the lobby group, Adshel decided to remove the billboards, citing concerns about taste and decency.
Healthy Communities led a protest against the removal of the ads outside Adshel’s Brisbane office on Wednesday, with about 30 people waving the poster, and more than 30,000 Facebook users joined an online protest.
On Twitter, thousands re-tweeted this message: “Dear #adshel, thousands of united Australians are stronger than a handful of homophobes. RT (retweet) if you agree #ripnroll”, including Anna Bligh, the Premier of Queensland
The ACL campaign was led by the group’s Queensland director, Wendy Francis, who said she objected to the ads’ sexual nature, not the fact the couple pictured were gay.