Gay Association Demeans Bible in Ad
Country: United Kingdom
Date of incident: October 18, 2006
Category: Social Hostility / Intolerance
Attack against: Faith
Area of case: Private
Gay Police Association places ad in The Independent with a photograph of a bible next to a pool of blood.A national press ad placed by the Gay Police Association in The Independent was headlined "in the name of the father". Further text stated "In the last 12 months, the Gay Police Association has recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator. Verbal abuse and physical assault against gay men and women is a criminal offence and should always be reported to the police. Discrimination against gay people in the workplace is also unlawful and should be reported to employers, who have a duty of care to prevent it. Homophobia can never be justified and must never be tolerated. www.report-it.org.uk". The text was accompanied by a photograph of a Bible next to a pool of blood.
Several organisations complained against it (Christian Watch, the Trinitarian Bible Society, The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, The Evangelical Alliance, Bible Theology Ministries).
The Gay Police Association (GPA) said the ad was devised to coincide with the 2006 Euro-Pride event and was intended to highlight the reporting of homophobic hate crime, in particular, incidents where religion was given as justification for an offence. They accepted that the imagery and headline used were primarily Christian, but argued that accompanying text made clear the issues referred to were not exclusive to Christianity.
The GPA said the UK was still a predominantly Christian country and, based on the calls recorded on their helpline, it was reasonable and proportionate for the ad to focus on Christianity; they believed, however, in the way it addressed the issue of religion-fuelled, homophobic incidents, the ad included faiths other than Christianity. They used the image of the Bible as a symbol of religion in general.
ASA told the GPA to ensure future campaigns were not presented in a way that could cause undue offence and also reminded them that they should ensure the use of imagery did not send misleading messages to consumers.