The wheels come off crazy Christian’s ‘Gay cure’ London bus ad campaign

DOWNRIGHT dangerous, discredited, stupid and irresponsible. That’s the only way of describing persistent attempts by fundamentalist groups to change human sexual orientation. Well, to change gay people “straight”, to be more precise.

Just days after the Melbourne’s Sunday Age carried a damning expose of “reparative” treatments to Australian homosexuals, it was announced that London buses would be carrying ads advocating gay cures. Behind the ad campaign were two crackpot outfits: the Core Issues Trust (motto: God’s heart in sexual and relational brokenness …) whose leader, Mike Davidson, believes “homoerotic behaviour is sinful”, and Anglican Mainstream, a worldwide orthodox Anglican group whose supporters have equated homosexuality with alcoholism. The advert was due to say:

Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!

Such was the outrage that to the planned campaign that London Mayor, Boris Johnson immediately crushed it.

Johnson, who contacted the Guardian to announce he was stopping the adverts within two hours of their contents becoming public, 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.

His main rival in next month’s mayoral election, Ken Livingstone, said Johnson should never have allowed the adverts to be booked.

London is going backwards under a Tory leadership that should have made these advertisements impossible. They promote a falsehood, the homophobic idea of ‘therapy’ to change the sexual orientation of lesbians and gay men.

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.

The gay ex-vicar, Labour MP and former minister Chris Bryant, said the advert was cruel for promoting the idea that you could become “ex-gay” and he said it would particularly hurt teenagers struggling to come to terms with their sexuality.

The emotional damage that is done to the individuals who try to suppress their sexuality, the women they marry and the children they might have is immeasurable. Most sane Christians believe that homosexuality is not a lifestyle or a choice but is a fact to be discovered or not. The pretence that homosexuality is something you can be weaned off in some way is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of creation.

Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of Stonewall, said the adverts were “clearly homophobic” and added:

The only reason some gay people might want to stop being gay is because of the prejudice of the people who are publishing the ad. The promotion of this voodoo therapy is hugely irresponsible given the damage that it appears to do to some people.

Both men said the advert should not be banned, however, because they believed in freedom of speech.

Attempts to “treat” or alter sexual orientation have been strongly condemned by leading medical organisations. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has warned that “so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish” and concluded in 2010:

There is no sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.

The dotty Rev Lynda Rose, a spokesperson for the UK branch of Anglican Mainstream, said her group adhered to scripture that all fornication outside marriage is prohibited and believed that homosexuals were:

Not being fully the people God intended us to be.

She said therapies endorsed by Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues were not coercive and were appropriate for people who wanted to change their sexual attractions, for example if they were married and worried about the impact of a “gay lifestyle” on their children.

Hat tip: Remigius and BarrieJohn



38 responses to “The wheels come off crazy Christian’s ‘Gay cure’ London bus ad campaign”

  1. stargraves says:

    Just wonder should they be prosecuted for homophobic discrimination like those Islamic jerks with those leaflets in Tower Hamlets?

    It’s clear – by adopting the same graphic design as the Stonewall campaign that they are being needlessly belligerent – and simply have no idea how obnoxious they are with their ignorance.

  2. Barry Duke says:

    Actually, I am against the ban, and have given my reasons over on the Pink Humanist blog:

  3. fernando says:

    Just a technical bit:
    I’ve noticed you’ve included the link to those christian nuts websites.
    Please be sure to use the “nofollow” attribute (rel=”nofollow”) on the code, so those t**ts have no reward on Google ranking (

  4. Good point, fernando. I’ve added them.

  5. barriejohn says:

    I have mixed feelings about the ban, but I think the reasons put forward by Boris and others – that the ads send out the wrong message about London – is, frankly, ridiculous, and is bound to cause nothing but resentment. However, I feel that there might well be grounds for banning them because of the well-documented harm that this so-called therapy has done to so many.

  6. Broga says:

    I listened to a few minutes of the phone-in on this subject on Radio 5 Live last night but quickly switched off. What I found I didn’t want to hear was more from a Christian woman instructing gays that they had got it wrong and she knew better. This is par for the christian course. They always know best, even without knowledge or experience, and are so ready to lecture others.

    I’m against censorship and I’d say let them run their silly ads. However, I think a good point is made about the damage this mis-information causes, including being a provocation for bullying.

  7. barriejohn says:

    I meant to add that I am amazed to learn that the mayor of London has the authority to arbitrarily ban adverts on the city’s transport. Is he acting within his powers?

  8. Angela_K says:

    In spite of the advertisements being offensive they should have been allowed because the hate and desperation of the christian bigots is on display for all to see. Perhaps Boris is on a bit of a power trip, like Eric Pickles.

    Anyone know how much bus advertising costs? It would be nice to do a christian-insanity cure version.

  9. Stuart W says:

    Stargraves – I expect the main reason that the CIT and AM ripped off the Stonewall design was so that it would look like a flagrant double standard if these ads got refused. Too bad for the fundies that the motivations of demonisation and promoting potentially dangerous quackery in theirs was recognised.
    Barriejohn – I would hardly say that Johnson’s explanation was ‘ridiculous’. The eyes of the world will very soon be on London; not good PR to have either national or international press reporting that adverts urging homosexuals to turn cured are as common as ones for Singing in the Rain.

  10. While I find the advertisement abhorrent, I find the extra-legal use of executive power even more alarming.

  11. Stuart H. says:

    Anglican Mainstream eh? Never was a group so incorrectly named. They’re more like half a dozen stubborn dingleberries on the backside of the Anglican church. The only reason they are ‘international’ is that even within Anglicanism they cannot rustle up more than a couple of members in any country – shades of Stephen Green megalomania, methinks!
    Incidentally, it’s been reported in various places that the psychologist on whose’ research’ all this -ex-gay’ nonsense is based this week retracted the one article any academic journal could be fooled into running.
    Game over? Or is that too much to hope from Christian con-artists?

  12. stargraves says:

    @Barry Duke – I too am against censorship, as a former BDSM artist my work basically ended when “that sort of thing” was hastily banned in a knee-jerk reaction to a terrible crime a few years back.

    However – as much as I agree that this gay-cure nonsense needs exposing to public scrutiny and being demolished for the bigotry it is – I think their bus adverts would not necessarily open much debate – being as I think the average knobhead in the street wouldn’t give much of a toss in the first place – and also – it would seemingly legitimise it in the eyes of the religiots who seek to spread their nastiness.

    I may be wrong of course.

    Also – I do think the ban itself has gotten the topic more publicity than they would have had anyway to raise the subject – and I would further hope that their crying about it – would lead to patient explanations to them that what they are peddling here in terms of a gay-cure and how being gay is a sin, is small minded bullshit.

    (Which could then be expanded upon to explain the rest of their mumbo jumbo!)

  13. remigius says:

    Call me a cynic, but I think these clowns started this ad campaign with the knowledge that it would have this reaction. It then gives them another chance to bleat about Christians being persecuted.

    They are actually going out of their way to be persecuted!

  14. johnny says:

    Anyone who thinks gay is a choice should try it 😀

  15. barriejohn says:

    Stuart W: Yes, I agree with what he said, but how can you ban an advert on that basis? It sounds more like the remark that one would expect to hear from the mayor of Pyongyang!

  16. Har Davids says:

    It may be time atheists start offering to people, gay or straight, who struggle with their religion a ‘weaning of religious delusions’. Feeling bouts of rationality? Go the whole hog and embrace atheism. It might help you get rid of: homophobia, misogyny, racism, anti-intellectualism, and many other ills. Let us help you to concentrate on more important matters than your neighbour’s bed-partner, amongst other things.

  17. JohnMWhite says:

    I agree with barriejohn here, I also have mixed feelings about the ban. It is certainly a good thing to protect those struggling with their sexuality from being metaphorically slapped in the face with these kind of poisonous ideas, but at the same time even poisonous ideas ought to be aired for public scrutiny, and I’m not sure how a mayor can make unilateral decisions about what may or may not be displayed on buses and claim to give a toss about free speech or democracy.

    Ken Livingstone’s reaction was somehow even more ridiculous than the mayor’s – he is furious that Johnson did not overstep his bounds pre-emptively! Says everything about the political ruling class, really. They firmly believe that it is their privilege to wave their hand and make things how they want them to be, approaching policy and politics with the child-like brutishness of Anakin Skywalker.

    Anyway, if anyone should be feeling the wrath of any kind of ban, it is those who practice this dangerous and warped rendition of psychiatry that preys on the patient’s feelings of guilt in order to manipulate them into changing their natural behaviour purely for the self-righteous satisfaction of those administering the treatment. It is grossly unethical.

  18. stargraves says:

    @JohnMWhite – that’s it – nail on the head; the “unethical” and I would go so far as to say “anti-human” stance they take – It’s using prejudice to prey on the vulnerable. Very vindictive. (I don’t necessarily see gay adults as vulnerable, but gay children are definitely in need of protecting from these belligerent fucktards.)

    @Har Davids great idea = there should be adverts curing religious delusion. How could the ASA object – as it’s totally a personal choice to remain ignorant, bigotted and believing in unsubstantiated hateful supernatural nonsense!

  19. stargraves says:

    PS – and the news they are suing – should give the issue of their hateful intolerance even more publicity – so I think the ban is fair.

  20. Broga says:

    @johnny: You have provided the perfect riposte to gay being a choice. Brilliant.

  21. stargraves says:

    @Johnny & @broga – Indeedy!

    What I miss out on in terms of multiple testicular pendulae – I make up with for in terms of breasts slapping on the back.

    The male G-spot is up the tradesmans after all – even for straight guys.

  22. Cyprian says:

    Would the Ken Livingstone be the same man who appeared on Press TV and with fundementalist Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi who advocated Female Genital mutilation and the murder of gay people?

  23. Matt Westwood says:

    For some people gay is a choice. For some people is not. Does it matter?

  24. Robster says:

    The ex gay twits probably charge a motza for their “services”. Perhaps we, those that have remained unafflicted by religious delusion can offer, as suggested above,an “Ex-Deluded” service and charge a fortune. Any dosh raised could be put to good use included running ads promoting the silliness of the christian/jewish/muzzie nonsense and adding to the ranks of the freethinkers. There’s many good sales points to sell the Ex deluded service that can be used. For example “Sleep in Sunday”, “Save at least 10% of your income for you and the family”, “Eat better than wine and dry crackers for Sunday brunch” etc. Shouldn’t be that hard. Offer dip.

  25. Buffy says:

    “Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!”

    That makes no sense. Since when has anybody ever given a shit if some people are heterosexual? How many people have been harassed, persecuted or harmed because they were straight? How many laws are there denying straight people rights that gay people enjoy?

  26. Stonyground says:

    There is some strong condemnation of homophobic Christians and an overall excellent blog here:

  27. Angela_K says:

    Buffy, in the warped minds of the religious, equal rights for gay people means giving us some sort of privilege.

  28. Daz says:

    I can’t make my mind up about the ban. The tolerance/intolerance reasons stated by Johnson are wrong. Utterly. They fly in the face of free speech. On the other hand it’s a blatant case of false advertising, in that it gives the impression that gayness can be ‘cured’ or ‘reversed’; something that’s never yet been shown to happen. And such ‘cures’ have most certainly been shown to cause psychological damage, so on that part of his reasoning, I agree; though not with the ‘because it’s offensive’ part.

    At the risk of sidetracking into politics; how odious is that statement by Livingstone? Johnson bans the ad within hours of it appearing, so Livingstone, who apparently just has to attack him for something attacks him for ever letting it appear at all, as if Johnson personally vets every prospective bus-ad. I’m not a great fan of either man, but Ken definitely comes off worst in this exchange.

  29. […] see why Johnson, and his opponent, Livingstone, oppose the ads, however, they are skirting a very fine line over issues of censorship, one which will lead to resentment from religious groups. VN:F […]

  30. E says:

    It’s a money making scam that kills kids. They can tell us we’re going to hell by all means, that’s their right. The abusive, cod-scientific suicide factory that they’re promoting, on the other hand, should be vehemently opposed. There’s freedom of speech and then there’s endangering vulnerable people to make a quick buck. If you see any similar adverts anywhere, destroy them.

  31. Mancs Guy says:

    hmmm, this doesn’t figure…..

    A minority group run a series of ads promoting fair treatment, consideration, tolerance, understanding – basically just asking to be treated in an equal & fair manner.

    Then another minority group demand the *right* to run ads attacking that group & saying they need to be cured because they’re sick.

    Which group did you say claimed to be Christians? Supposed followers of Christ?

  32. Matt Westwood says:

    Did anyone see that tweet doing the rounds: “Nick Clegg: Not Liberal! Post-Liberal, Ex-Liberal and Tory. Get over it!”

  33. Tim Brierley says:

    As the font and colour scheme are the same as Stonewall’s poster campaign, this set of clowns could be considered to be ‘passing off’ as the Stonewall charity. If their message has any credibility, in their own minds, then why not create a very distinct ad campaign? My suggestion is, that by using Stonewall’s style they have gained an increased awareness of their bizarre ideas, otherwise would anybody have noticed? I think banning is not the way to deal with these people. Let them be judged in the public arena by the public. They are not inciting hatred, they have a right to voice their own opinions, no matter how infantile it is. On the subject of court action, Stonwall should consider taking out a case against them for copyright infringements and a ‘passing off’ case to boot.

  34. Darth Later says:

    I have no problem banning fraudulent criminal advertisements, and that is exactly what these ads are.
    For anyone feeling squeemish about free-speech rights, just remember that such rights are not universal anything-goes type rights.
    There are limits, in terms of criminality and outright falsehoods and such, that preclude allowing anything just because it’s considered “speech”.
    False advertising is not often considered “free speech” because of its criminal nature, yet there are always people who are a bit foggy on how these legal things work and are only too willing to err on the side of being overly permissive, overly vague, and think there could be good reasons for allowing lies, fraud, and other violations to pass unchallenged.
    There is such a thing as taking it too far, and saying that this censorship is bad just because it is censorship is to show oneself to be a fool who doesn’t understand why certain types of speech should always be banned throughout the world.