London ad campaign for 'gay conversion' shelved


LONDON MAYOR Boris Johnson has pulled an “offensive” Christian campaign advertising “gay conversion” which was due to appear on the city’s buses next week.

News that adverts asserting the power of therapy to change the sexual orientation of gay people were to be driven around the capital emerged before Mr Johnson, who is seeking re-election in May, was set to appear tomorrow at a mayoral hustings organised by gay campaigning group Stonewall.

The mayor immediately put the wheels in motion to halt the campaign after being alerted to the plans by the Guardian, and made clear that such advertising had no place in a tolerant city. Mr Johnson said: “It is clearly offensive to suggest that being gay is an illness that someone recovers from, and I am not prepared to have that suggestion driven around London on our buses.”

Transport for London (TfL) subcontracts advertising for London’s buses to advertising agency CBSO, which had run the advert past the Advertising Standards Authority, an aide to Mr Johnson said. The authority said the advert “does not infringe any advertising rules in the UK”.

Mr Johnson used his discretion as chair of TfL to instruct the transport body to ditch the campaign, which was due to appear on 25 buses in the capital next week.

The advert was due to appear on five different routes over a two-week period. It was backed by the Core Issues Trust, whose leader, Mike Davidson, believes “homoerotic behaviour is sinful”. His charity funds “reparative therapy” for gay Christians who believe they have homosexual feelings but want to become straight. The campaign is also backed by Anglican Mainstream, a worldwide orthodox Anglican group whose supporters have equated homosexuality with alcoholism.

The advert was due to say: “Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!” Post-gay and ex-gay are terms used by some Christians, psychotherapists and psychiatrists to refer to homosexuals who have undergone spiritual or pastoral therapy and, according to an Anglican Mainstream definition, have “now left a homosexual lifestyle [and experienced] an increased emotional and sexual attraction to the opposite biological gender and possibly a reduction in or loss of same-sex attraction”.

Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Brian Paddick, who is gay, said: “From personal experience as a gay Christian, I can tell you that it’s much better to be out than in. We should be celebrating the diversity for which London is known, not denigrating it.”

– (Guardian service)