based upon Advertising Standards Authority Article
A regional press ad, for Sandown Free Presbyterian Church, was headlined THE WORD OF GOD AGAINST SODOMY. Further offensive text stated:
The issue of human rights is no longer a basis for this parade, as successive governments have legislated for the lowering of the age of consent, the authorisation of civil partnerships and the inheritance rights of a nominated partner. It is a cause for regret that a section of the community desire to be known for a perverted form of sexuality, which in certain incidences has provoked the unacceptable and totally unjustifiable response of violence. Such a response, however, must not intimidate the church into silence.
The ASA received seven complaints:
1. four complainants believed the ad's content was homophobic and, therefore, offensive and
2. six complainants believed the ad was likely to provoke hatred and violence against the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
The ASA noted the ad prominently stated Published by the Kirk Session of Sandown Free Presbyterian Church and recognised that readers would understand that the text was representative of the beliefs of a specific group and indicative of their opinion only. We considered, however, that some of the text used in relation to homosexuality, for example, ... declaring it to be an abomination ..., ... God's judgement upon a sin ..., ... remove the guilt of their wrongdoing ..., ... a cause for regret that a section of the community desire to be known for a perverted form of sexuality ..., went further than the majority of readers were likely to find acceptable.
We considered that particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of sexual orientation, and concluded that this ad had caused serious offence to some readers.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clause 5.1 (Decency) but did not breach 8.1 (Matters of opinion).
The ad should not appear again in its current form.
2. Not upheld
We understood that the complainants were concerned because the ad called for an outdoor meeting to be held in protest of the act of sodomy and to voice disapproval of the Belfast Gay Pride parade on the same day as the parade was arranged; they believed this action could be read as an attempt to spread hatred and incite violence against supporters and members of the Pride movement and LBGT community.
While we appreciated the complainants' concern, we considered that the ad did not in itself incorporate language likely to incite a violent emotional response. We considered that it would be clear to readers that it represented the views of a specific group, which were not universally held, and would be deemed extreme by some. We acknowledged, therefore, that the ad conveyed an opinion that was controversial for some readers but concluded that it was unlikely to provoke hatred or violence against the LGBT community.
On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code clauses 8.1 (Matters of opinion) and 11.1 (Violence and anti-social behaviour) but did not find it in breach.
The head of these bigots is:
Rev D McIlveen
Sandown Road Free Presbyterian Church
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Tel: 02890 797757