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Gay British
police group in hot water over ad

Gay British
police group in hot water over ad

The United Kingdom's Gay Police Association got a slapped wrist Tuesday from an advertising industry group that found untruthful its controversial "blood and Bible" newspaper ad placed during EuroPride in London.

The police group took out a double-page ad in The Independent newspaper's June 29 diversity supplement, coinciding with EuroPride celebrations that weekend.

The ad, which prominently featured a pool of blood and a blood-colored Bible, was titled "In the Name of the Father." It claimed that crimes against gays "where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator" had risen 74% in the year since civil unions became legal. And it complained of a rise in homophobic bullying by fellow officers during that time.

Incensed Christians got Scotland Yard to investigate whether the ad was a violation of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006, which targets "offenses involving stirring up hatred against persons on racial or religious grounds." Authorities declined to prosecute, however.

More than 550 people complained to Britain's Advertising Standards Authority, a self-regulatory panel, claiming the ad implied that the teachings of the Bible and Christianity were responsible for and condoned violence against gays.

In a judgment released Tuesday, the advertising group rejected the claim.

"We recognized that the juxtaposition of passionately held iconography, such as the Bible, alongside the image of blood, was likely to be deemed inappropriate by some," the ad group stated.

"While we appreciated that the imagery might cause concern, and notwithstanding the [gay police] argument, we considered that supporting text clarified the context of the images and headline: We considered that, overall, the ad did not imply Christian teaching was responsible for, or condoned, homophobic incidents."

The Advertising Standards Authority did, however, agree that the ad could cause offense.

It found the ad untruthful in its claim that calls about homophobic incidents had increased by 74%, and it criticized the police group for being unable to back up its statement with evidence.

The ad group said in its ruling that "by featuring spilt blood prominently, the ad suggested that all the reported incidents involved physical injury."

"On this point, the advert breached the truthfulness code," it added.

The ad group's statement said it told the Gay Police Association to "ensure future campaigns were not presented in a way that could cause undue offense and also reminded them that they should ensure the use of imagery did not send misleading messages to consumers." It also asked the police group to "ensure any statistics could be substantiated and reminded them to show supporting data to the ASA upon request" after it had failed to do so.

An Advertising Standards Authority spokeswoman said, "This is our most-complained-about campaign advert of the year so far. People thought it was portraying Christians in a bad light."

The Gay Police Association said that the ad was designed to be thought-provoking and challenging but that it was never intended to castigate or describe all religious followers as homophobic. (U.K./Gay.com)

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