Judge Bans Ex-Gay Ads on London Buses; Christian Groups Blast Double Standard

A London judge upheld a ban last week against ads on city buses that suggest that homosexuality can be overcome.

British-based Christian group Core Issues Trust had hoped to run the slogan "Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!" on the sides of London's famous double-decker buses, but in a 35-page ruling, High Court Judge Beverley Lang argued that the ad could be used to promote homophobic attacks, which trumps the group's freedom of expression.

"[The advert] was not a contribution to a reasoned debate," Judge Lang wrote, according to Reuters.

Core Issues Trust, however, says that they only want the same opportunity to express themselves as pro-gay activist groups, such as Stonewall, which last year ran ads that read "Some people are gay. Get over it!"

The Christian group says that the ruling is "likely to stifle open and free debate about homosexuality and discriminate against those who reject a 'gay' identity."

On their website, CIT explains that their efforts are focused on helping people who voluntarily want to change their sexual orientation.

Stonewall, meanwhile, welcomed the ruling, with group spokesman Andy Wasley saying, "It is fantastic that no adverts will be promoting 'voodoo, gay-cure therapy' in London."

Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill added, "In a city where over half of gay young people face bullying at school, and where tens of thousands of gay people are subjected to hate crimes every year just because of the way they were born, it's perfectly proper for a mayor to object to the use of such advertising in an iconic public setting," referring to London Mayor Boris Johnson, who has opposed the promotion of gay therapy.

CIT has been trying for a while to post the ads on the buses. The group was first turned down by TFL, the public body in charge of the bus network, which in April 2012 told them that the ads go against their "commitment to a tolerant and inclusive London."

Judge Lang noted, however, that TFL might be applying double standards in its choice of advertisements, given that it had embraced Stonewall's "Get over it!" campaign.

Other Christian groups picked up on the double standard, with Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, saying:

"As soon as a Christian group responds to Stonewall's provocation and dares to challenge the reigning political orthodoxy, the message is banned.

"This case demonstrates the huge asymmetry and censorship that characterizes public debate at the moment."