LGBTI health promotion body ACON is confident Sydney’s colossal condom, unveiled this morning, won’t meet the same fate as the great Parisian butt plug that was pulled down after less than a week.

However, extremist Christian campaigners are already calling for the sheath to be shorn from the Hyde Park obelisk, saying it’s inappropriate for such a public setting.

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“It’s an obelisk and we’re turning it into a penis,” Australian Christian Lobby director Wendy Francis raged to News.com.au today.

She also labelled the marketing stunt as “disgusting”.

“There is an age appropriate time for parents to talk to children about condoms,” Francis said.

“Parents do not want to be forced into a situation where they have to explain something that’s not relevant.”

Francis is no stranger to safe sex campaigns previously rallying against Queensland’s Rip and Roll billboards that showed two fully-clothed men embracing and a condom.

RELATED: ACON’s #giantcondom launch — Photos

Talking to the Star Observer, ACON chief executive Nicolas Parkhill defended the 18m installation which aims to raise awareness among gay men about how they can help end HIV transmission in NSW by 2020.

“This is not about promoting a penis, quite the contrary, it’s promoting an important public health message and 30 years into the HIV epidemic you would hope community messages like this are acceptable,” he said.

“You only have to see the number of people taking photos beside it and the level of engagement to see the great majority of Sydney and NSW would see this as critical to building the community’s health.”

Research from the University of NSW’s Centre for Social Research in Health has shown a 20 per cent increase over the last 15 years in the number of gay men not always using a condom during casual encounters.

Parkhill said ACON needed to be innovative to ensure the condom message continued to connect.

“Certainly gay men don’t see condom use as they would have 30 years ago at the heart of the crisis but if we’re going to end HIV we need to continue to use condoms, particularly where you don’t know the other person’s status,” he said.

“Any health campaign needs to get cut-through so we’re trying different things to add to that suite of communications.”

The giant condom is part the $120,000 “I’m On” safe sex education campaign that ACON has been promoting on the streets of Sydney and across LGBTI, mainstream and social media.

“It’s important to measure that cost in terms of the awareness it raises in the community and it’s critical we continue to invest in prevention as that saves money to the public health system down the line,” Parkhill said.

“This is generating such great visibility so I think in terms of community engagement its absolutely worth every cent.”

The now condom-covered obelisk was built in 1857 to funnel foul fumes from Sydney’s first sewer away from street level.

Opened by then-Lord Mayor George Thornton, it’s distinctive shape – based on London’s Cleopatra’s Needle sculpture – earned the nickname ‘Thornton’s Scent Bottle”.

The giant pink condom will sheathe the Hype Park obelisk in Sydney, on the corner of Elizabeth and Bathurst streets, until Wednesday, November 12.

(Main image credit: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

RELATED: ACON’s #giantcondom launch — Photos

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