Advertising company Adshel have reinstated a safe sex campaign following Australian Christian Lobby Queensland director Wendy Francis’ acknowledgement that the complaints received by Adshel, Brisbane City Council and the Advertising Standards Bureau regarding the campaign had been orchestrated by the Australian Christian Lobby
“Adshel earlier responded to a series of complaints by removing the campaign from its media panels yesterday. None of the complaints indicated any liaison with the ACL, so Adshel was made to believe that they originated from individual members of the public” a newly issued statement on its website read.
“It has now become clear that Adshel has been the target of a coordinated ACL campaign. This has led us to review our decision to remove the campaign and we will therefore reinstate the campaign with immediate effect,” Adshel CEO Steve McCarthy said.
There had been broad community outrage at the earlier decision by Adshel to remove posters for the Queensland Association of Healthy Communities (QAHC) campaign encouraging safe sex.
National spokeswoman for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Shelly Argent OAM, said the advert was not obscene or crude in any manner. It was just sending a message about safe sex practice.
“As a parent and national spokesperson for PFLAG which is an international family support group, I am very angry and disappointed about the Christian Lobby’s complaint about the ‘Rip n Roll’ campaign and its withdrawal from public view,” she said.
“If my son was young and just coming out, I, as a parent, would be wanting him to be informed and confident enough to seek information that would assist him to keep the risk of STI’s and HIV minimised, and this advert would have been a very helpful as a safe sex message.”
Queensland treasurer Andrew Fraser said complaints about the ad were “homophobic” while Liberal National Party MP David Gibson said on Twitter that he wasn’t offended by the ad, but supports Adshel’s right to pull the campaign. He also implied Fraser’s comments were to distract from the state’s GDP figures.
A protest was held at Adshel’s Brisbane headquarters this afternoon where a group of people held up posters from the campaign and chanted ‘Equal rights, equal love, equal people’.
The company initially released a statement on its website this morning in response to the controversy, saying that complaints were made by individual members of the public and that none were identified as stemming from the Australian Christian Lobby.
“Adshel does not have, and never had, any dealings with the Australian Christian Lobby and has not responded to any requests from this organisation. The decision to remove the posters was made on the basis of the large number of complaints received, ” it read.
“Adshel does not take a position regarding the views or position of various community groups.”
However, the Australian Standards Bureau CEO Fiona Jolly told other media today that it had “received [roughly 30] complaints about the ad on Monday about the Queensland campaign”, and indicated that one of the complainants had made the complaint on behalf of the ACL.
Speaking on the scandal, QAHC executive director of healthy communities Paul Martin said the association was deeply disappointed by Adshel’s behaviour in removing the advertisements, without notifying them and/or providing proper reason.
“The advert is in no way explicit or offensive to the average Queenslander. The complaints claim that depictions of gay people and discussion of sexual health are not appropriate for the general community. We reject these claims outright,” Martin said.
What can you do?
Individuals are being encouraged to contact Adshel and demand that the adverts be put back up in their original locations.
Phone: 07 3250 8200
Fax: 07 3257 7776
Email: via website www.adshel.com.au/who/contact
Write: Suite 19, Plumridge House, 36 Agnes St, Fortitude Valley Q 4006