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Friday, April 13, 2012

Boris saves the day for Tories

An article in today's Guardian illustrates how London Mayor Boris Johnson holds all the cards within the Conservative Party when it comes to political judgement.

The paper reports that Boris intervened to prevent a Christian advertising campaign from promoting the idea that gay people can be converted to heterosexuality:

Just days before the posters were due to appear on buses in the capital, Johnson ordered his transport chiefs to pull the adverts booked by two conservative Anglican groups following outrage among gay campaigners and politicians saying that they were homophobic. The adverts were booked on behalf of the Core Issues Trust whose leader, Mike Davidson, believes "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 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!"

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."

The Mayor was acting in his capacity as Chair of Transport for London, so in that respect his decision was one taken to protect the company's brand. There are though freedom of expression arguments to be had around this decision.

My concern is that such a complex and emotional subject is being reduced to slogans on the side of buses in place of real debate and discussion. I am supportive of proposals for gay marriage but these sort of tactics, no matter which side is using them, do not help in ensuring that the public understand the issues around that proposal.
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