The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, intervened to prevent a Christian advertising campaign from promoting the idea that gay people can be converted to heterosexuality.
The advert was due to say: Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!
A few days before the ads were due to appear on buses Johnson ordered his transport chiefs to pull the adverts booked by two Anglican groups following ‘outrage’ among gay campaigners and politicians saying that they were homophobic. Johnson said:
London is one of the most tolerant cities in the world and intolerant of intolerance. 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.
The adverts were booked on behalf of the Core Issues Trust whose leader, Mike Davidson, claims homoerotic behaviour is sinful. His charity funds reparative therapy for gay Christians, which it claims can develop their heterosexual potential. The campaign was also backed by Anglican Mainstream, a worldwide Anglican group.
The Christian groups insisted the advert had been cleared with Transport for London (TfL). Davidson said:
I didn’t realise censorship was in place. We went through the correct channels and we were encouraged by the bus company to go through their procedures. They okayed it and now it has been pulled.
CBS Outdoor, the media company that sells the bus advertising sites, said the ad had been passed for display by the Committee of Advertising Practice.
The campaign was an explicit attempt to hit back at the gay rights group Stonewall, which as part of its lobbying for the extension of marriage to gay couples is running its own bus adverts saying: Some people are gay. Get over it. The Christian groups used the same black, red and white colour scheme as Stonewall and in a statement announcing the campaign accused it of promoting the false idea that there is indisputable scientific evidence that people are born gay.