UK: 'Ex-gay' London bus advert ban ruled lawful

22/03/2013
Submitted by ILGA-Europe

Reposted from BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-21894518

A ban on a Christian group's proposed bus advert suggesting gay people could be helped to change their sexuality has been ruled as lawful.

The High Court ruled Transport for London's process in introducing the ban "was procedurally unfair".

But it ruled TfL was right to ban the Core Issues Trust's advert because it would "cause grave offence" to those who were gay.

The posters read: "Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!"

They were a response to a bus poster campaign by gay rights group Stonewall, which carried the message: "Some people are gay. Get over it!"

A judge ruled Boris Johnson did not abuse his position as chairman of TfL when he imposed the ban.

The Core Issues Trust said the London mayor was "politically driven" when he intervened to block the ad, which suggested gay people could be helped to "move out of homosexuality".

Mr Johnson condemned the "gay cure" advert as "offensive to gays" and said it could lead to retaliation against the wider Christian community.

'Widespread offence'

Mrs Justice Lang ruled TfL's process in introducing the ban "was procedurally unfair, in breach of its own procedures and demonstrated a failure to consider the relevant issues".

But that was outweighed by factors against allowing the ad, including that it would "cause grave offence" to those who were gay and was perceived as homophobic, "thus increasing the risk of prejudice and homophobic attacks", said the judge.

TfL refused to carry the Core Issues Trust advert on the grounds it was "likely to cause widespread or serious offence to members of the public", and it contained "images or messages which relate to matters of public controversy and sensitivity".

TfL's lawyers argued Article 10 did not entitle the trust to advertise "offensive material".

They said the ban was justified by the need to protect public morals and the right of homosexuals under Article 8 of the convention to respect for their dignity and private lives.

The judge revealed her concern over the issues raised by the case by giving Core Issues permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Mrs Justice Lang said, although she did not think an appeal would succeed, there were "compelling reasons" to allow one to go ahead.

She said the case "concerns interference with the right to freedom of expression which is a matter of such fundamental importance that it merits consideration by the appellant court".


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