Opposing against gay marriage not homophobic, says advertising watchdog
telegraph.co.ukSyria NewsJune 12th, 2012view original
Campaigning against gay marriage not homophobic, says advertising watchdog Photo: Alamy
Photo by: Campaigning against gay marriage not homophobic, says advertising watchdog Photo: Alamy
Campaigning against changing the law on marriage to include same-sex couples should be allowed, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said.
It threw out a clutch of complaints about publicity material for the Coalition For marriage campaign amid claims that they were would offend homosexual people.
The watchdog ruled that, while not everyone would agree with the aims of the campaign, this was no grounds for claiming that they were discriminatory.
It follows a row over the ASA’s decision to investigate the campaign publicity at a time when its chairman, Lord Smith of Finsbury, posted a video online speaking in favour of the Government’s plans.
The watchdog was forced to make clear that Lord Smith would not be voting on the adjudication in the event of a split as he had a conflict of interest.
A total of 11 people complained that advertisements which appeared in Country Life Magazine and Archbishop Cranmer, a popular political and religious blog, were homophobic.
The advertisement showed a montage of wedding photographs under the words “I Do” and details of a poll suggesting that 70 per cent of people wanted to “keep marriage as it is”.
It added: “Whilst fully recognising the rights and views of others, we're asking you to support us.
“If you want to keep the true meaning of marriage as it is, and has been for thousands of years, say ‘I do’ – by signing our petition at c4m.org.uk.”
In its adjudication the ASA ruled: “We noted the complainants believed that [the] ads … were offensive as they considered them to be homophobic.
“However, the ads focused on the current legal definition of marriage and its history.
“We considered that, although some people might disagree with the advertisers' opinions on the matter of same sex marriage, the ads in themselves did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.”
There were also 24 complaints alleging that the advertisements, as well as similar pieces in national newspapers, were misleading in their use of polling carried out by ComRes for the religious campaign group Catholic Voices.
The ASA rejected the claims adding that ComRes was a “well-known and reputable polling company used by many sources”.
Ben Summerskill, of the gay rights group Stonewall, said: “We're not sure that an advertisement in a small circulation magazine, as opposed to on the side of a London bus, should be banned, even if offensive.
“This should perhaps be a matter between Country Life and its readers, although I prefer Horse & Hound myself.”
The blogger "Cranmer" said: "The mere decision to investigate the Archbishop Cranmer blog for carrying a pro-marriage advertisement was vexatious and harassing.
"That the ad was deemed to be potentially 'offensive and homophobic' is so patently absurd that the ASA's profession of fairness and impartiality is fatally undermined."
Meanwhile the Church of England faced a backlash from within its own ranks over its strident official response to the Government’s consultation on same-sex marriage.
The Church criticised the move as “ideological” and “divisive” and signalled that it would even put the establishment of the Church of England in doubt.
But a group of Anglican clergy argued that the Church’s vocal opposition to same-sex marriage was denying homosexual parishioners the chance of a Christian marriage.
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Opposing Against Gay Marriage Not Homophobic, Says Advertising Watchdog
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