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
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.
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 .
Update: Asserting the right of freedom of expression to badmouth gays
A Christian group which had its
advertisement pulled from London buses after it was described as anti-gay has said it is considering legal action.
TfL had said the advert was not consistent with its commitment to a tolerant city.
Anglican Mainstream has instructed a law
firm to look at whether Transport for London (TfL) acted illegally when it scrapped the adverts. It said it wanted to know what happened to its contract with TfL for the ads, which implied people could be ex-gay .
Tom Ellis from legal firm
Aughton Ainsworth said he was going to examine whether the ban was a breach of contract and the group's right to freedom of expression.
The banning of silly Christian bus adverts reveals the contempt in which the mayor holds ordinary Londoners.
Last week, Boris Johnson, the perennially silly mayor of London, announced that he would ban a planned series of
posters on London buses which shouted: NOT GAY! EX-GAY, POST-GAY AND PROUD. GET OVER IT! The message was penned by the Christian campaign group, the Core Issues Trust, which believes that homosexuality is curable through therapy and religious
Boris Johnson has said that he feared that there would have been an intense backlash if he had allowed a Christian advertising campaign promoting the idea that gay people can be converted to heterosexuality to be plastered on London's buses.
He talked about his decision to censor the posters as he took part in a mayoral debate jointly organised by London Church Leaders, Faith to Engage, and the Evangelical Alliance.
He said that he made his decision not only because he thought an
advert which suggested that gay people could be cured was likely to cause great offence , but also because of the possible reverberations for London's Christian community. Hesaid:
The job of mayor is to unite,
the job is to stop prejudice, and actually the backlash would be so intense it would not have been in the interest of Christian people in this city.
Ken Livingstone told the audience that the advert would only have served to reinforce
A High Court judge is considering whether fresh evidence from the Mayor of London's office shows that Boris Johnson personally ordered Transport for London to ban a Christian anti-gay bus advertisement, and whether he did so for an improper purpose
during his re-election campaign in 2012.
The advert by Core Issue Trust (CIT), which claimed that people can change unwanted homosexual feelings, was in response to Stonewall's campaign, Some people are gay. Get over it! which had been running
on London buses for several months.
The ban on the Christian bus adverts took place during Boris Johnson's campaign for re-election as Mayor of London, just a day before he addressed an election rally organised by Stonewall, the gay pressure
Previously Mrs Justice Lang upheld the ban on the CIT slogan, Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it! , at the original High Court hearing. Following the decision, CIT submitted a Freedom of Information request which
revealed emails suggesting the Mayor had personally instructed TFL to ban the adverts. One email from the Mayor's Director of Communications at the time, Guto Harri, states that the Mayor personally ordered the Christian advertisement to be pulled. CIT
took the case to the Court of Appeal which sent it back to Mrs Justice Lang to consider the new email evidence which she had not seen at the first hearing.
Mrs Justice Lang stated she was not satisfied that the Mayor had told the full
story about the ban and made an order for disclosure by Boris Johnson and TfL of all relevant documents.
CIT is not satisfied that the Order has been fully complied with and believes that documents which could be crucial to the case are still
Core Issues Trust is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, whose CEO, Andrea Williams, said:
This is suppression of free speech and expression by the political class. Boris and his
high-level team are using their power to suppress a small Christian charity.
The fact that the Court of Appeal ordered this case to be reconsidered by Mrs Justice Lang is an important vindication of the rule of law. TfL has made
it hard for us to get to this point; it has been hostile and obstructive and has certainly not been a model of transparency. TfL has continued to promote Stonewall campaigns on its transport system -- a highly provocative action which shows disregard for
the Court's original judgment, which held that neither Stonewall's or Core Issues Trusts's adverts should have been allowed. If one point of view is championed on London's transport network, there must be room to display an opposing view. We hope the
Judge will recognise that this freedom was violated when the Mayor banned Core Issues Trust's adverts.
Christian campaigners have lost a High Court bid for a ruling that London Mayor Boris Johnson was personally responsible for an improper and politically-motivated ban of an anti-gay advert on buses.
Campaign group Core Issues Trust (CIT) had
accused him of an abuse of power and imposing the ban for the nakedly political purpose of currying favour with gay lobby groups and boosting his re-election campaign in 2012.
The Trust advert that never made it to the sides of buses in the
capital read: Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it! It was meant to be a response to posters promoted by lesbian and gay campaigners Stonewall that said: Some people are gay. Get over it! . Those did appear on buses.
CIT's judicial review action, brought over Transport for London's April 2012 decision not to allow the group's advertisement to appear on the outside of its buses, was dismissed by a judge in London. Announcing her conclusions, Mrs Justice Lang declared:
Mr Johnson was not motivated by an improper purpose, namely, to advance his Mayoral election campaign.
The advert was banned on April 12 2012 , a day before the Mayor addressed an election rally organised by Stonewall. At a hearing in March
last year, Mrs Justice Lang declared the banning order on the CIT poster lawful. She also ruled that the Mayor, in his capacity as chair of TfL, was entitled to be involved in the decision-making process leading up to the order, though it would have been
improper for him to use the situation to advance his re-election campaign.