London Mayor Further Explains Anti-Gay Bus Ad Decision

6a00d8341c730253ef0168ea1dc401970c-800wiLondon Mayor Boris Johnson stood up for LGBT people last week by banning an "ex-gay" group from running ads on the city's buses.

Those ads, which read "Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get Over It," were deemed offensive by Johnson, who yesterday further explained his decision.

From The Evening Standard:

[Johnson] said the ads, which he blocked last week, days before they were due to appear, would have caused “great offense”.

“The job of Mayor is to unite, to stop prejudice,” he said. “The backlash would be so intense it would not have been in the interest of Christian people in this city.” His Labour mayoral rival Ken Livingstone backed the move at a debate jointly organized by London Church Leaders, Faith to Engage and the Evangelical Alliance, saying: “In my view Boris was right to pull the ads.”

The ad's creators, meanwhile, are still considering a lawsuit against the city.


  1. Mary says

    The ads would have caused “great offense?” Don’t many things cause great offense? By claiming that he feared “backlash” against Christians in London,the mayor was just revealing that he had no real reason to bad the ad. It’s a BUS ad. This isn’t like allowing people to protest outside a gay community center. People who believe in “ex-gay therapy” have a right to their opinions, as do gays and those who believe that sexual identity is fixed and unchangeable. This is a case of liberal censorship, pure and simple. Those who are offended by the ad have the same option as those of us who are offended by the softcore porn that graces public ads these days – ignore it.

    Expect American conservatives to make an issue of this.

  2. Chadd says

    Mary, Why would American conservatives make an issue of this? London, in case your education is lacking, is in England – as in Europe. Yes, everyone has a right to their own opinions, as any bully will tell you, although everyone does not have the right – in every instance – to harass other people with those opinions.

    You can call this censorship if you’d like, because it may be that in some way. But in this case, the Mayor was doing it because he wants to project a certain image of the city in order to promote tourism and public tranquility rather than having buses with the word “London” on them used to promote a message of intolerance.

    And if you think public ads are softcore porn, then you’ve never seen real porn. Your Victorian morals are showing.

  3. jdot says

    Given the issue is one of the city of London, UK and so absolutely nothing to do with American conservatives, I’d suggest you save your efforts.

    That said, I do like thinking of what, exactly, American conservatives think they can do to make an impact on London commuters over some tacky adverts. So go for it, make an issue.

  4. says

    @ Mary ;
    You’re talking nonsense.
    The ads were an incitement to hatred and clearly meant to disparage a minority ……that may be the norm in the USA but it is not in Europe…….you saw very few reprints of the Danish cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed……because it caused offence and incited violence.
    Similarly there should be a clamp down on that hate peddling scum Fred Phelps.

    There is not an absolute right to do anything…..including a right to incite….there is no such right……even that illusionist, Scalia, would be hard pressed to find a right to incite hatred within the Constitution…….and it certainly wasn’t put there by Madison.Strict Constructionist my a$$.

    Well done, Boris.

  5. stpetegreg says

    Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but because ads selling snake oil as a cure for cancer would most likely be denied because there is no empirical evidence to back it up, so should anyone trying to advertise therapies that every reputable scientist has debunked be denied.

  6. says

    You’re talking nonsense.
    Boris was perfectly right to ban ads that cause offence to a minority community in that they encourage and incite the disparagement of that community and possible violence and certainly feed hatred.
    Don’t you think that the gay community is disparaged enough ?
    There is no absolute right to anything, and certainly not in the UK but in the USA that illusionist Scalia, no doubt would find one……one that Madison certainly didn’t put there.
    Well done , Boris, prevent the haters from spreading their hate… by example how a society ought to behave, not tolerating manifest incitement.

  7. Chadd says

    [Completely ignoring the troll] It is actually refreshing to read that Mayor Johnson’s POLITICAL RIVAL publicly agreed with his actions and said it was the right thing to do. Here, it seems, no matter what one side does, the other side will oppose it. Having politicians agree with each other and also actually supporting minority rights is completely unheard of in the US.

  8. Mary says

    I really don’t see how an ad for “ex-gay therapy” is inciting violence. I suppose it could be construed as disparaging by implying that many gay people would want to have their same-sex attractions change, but couldn’t almost any ad that aims to help people change be called disparaging using this standard? Ads for weight loss centers “disparage” the overweight. Ads for dermatologists “disparage” those with acne, etc… Ads for atheist grous “disparage” the religious, but I understand that atheists have rights also.

    The ads don’t call for violence or hostitlity to anyone. Sorry, but you’re all on the slippery slope here. In addition, you’re giving fuel to those who want to paint the LGBT community as an enemy of Christians. This is bad for social stability, whether in Europe OR the U.S. I agree that the religous of all faiths will have to start accepting the fact that LGBT citizens are out and proud – and get used to this. But this doesn’t mean that we should treat those with traditionalist values as pariahs who poison society simply be dissenting. There IS a middle ground.

  9. ratbastard says

    Amazing to think our [American] legal system is based on English Common Law and we grow up almost worshiping the ‘Mother Country’ for the ‘rights’ they passed down to us regarding free speech, etc. Yet, a lot of ridiculous, pansy cr*p seems to be getting more and more common in the ‘Mother Country’. Obviously, England, and the UK, is a uber P.C. society not to mention a fairly hardcore police/nanny state. CCTV cameras EVERYWHERE [even NYC doesn’t compare to London, I know from experience], speaking, writing, posting online [publishing?!] a ‘bad’ word about an officially ‘oppressed’ group can get you arrested and imprisoned. The mayor of London can cherry pick adverts from legal organizations that can or can not appear on public transit [Doesn’t London Transit have a dedicated boss? Don’t they have a board to determine this sh*t? Why would the mayor micromanage to this petty extent?]. There are a gazillion laws and regulations [and taxes+fees] for everything under the sun. Hoods and thugs can assault you and if you God forbid defend yourself, you’ll be arrested, especially if you use a *gasp* weapon. The cost of living in London in particular is INSANE. Even something as simple as a subway ride is INSANELY expensive, even compared to NYC or Paris.

    I’m a gay man. I DON’T CARE if this organization pays London Transport for these adverts. I’m not particularly offended by them. I’m far more offended by a society and government that wants o micromanage every aspect of a citizen’s [subjects in the UK] life. If it were a Nazi organization and they wanted to put a advert with a swastika up, then I’d understand denying them. On the other hand, the communist hammer and sickle also offends me and millions of others who suffered under communism, but you see it all the time. Many are offended by images of Che [rightly so,IMO] and you see those everywhere, and I bet the mayor wouldn’t stop an image of Che going up. The whole thing is pathetic.

  10. ratbastard says

    This Boris Johnson sounds as ’bout as ‘conservative’ as Bloomberg in NYC is Republican. Even the mainline ‘conservatives’ in the UK are uber P.C.

  11. Chadd says

    @ Mary: “In addition, you’re giving fuel to those who want to paint the LGBT community as an enemy of Christians.” Why should I care if I am seen as an enemy of Christians? Christians make no secret of their hate for gay people. Some even claim that their God hates fags. As a Christian, Mary, shouldn’t you be working on eliminating the hate and animosity within your own community rather than expending your energy on trying to justify why you should be able to just be obnoxious?

  12. Mary says

    No. But she and I are about a year apart in age, both (at least part) Irish-American, (I’m also half Italian, I don’t know about the rest of Maggie’s ethnicity), from the New York City area, and both social conservatives. Maggie is still Catholic from what I hear, and I became an evangelical in 1981. I’ve always been a traditionalist in morality, but I think she came to this position later in life since she got pregnant outside of marriage as a teen. I was a virgin until I married at age 34.

    I’m not officially a member of NOM, although I read their website regularly. Maggie and I would probably be in agreement on most issues.

  13. Mary says

    Chadd, I understand your offense at the “ex-gay therapy” ad. But it isn’t in your best interests politically to be seen as anti-Christian. There are millions of Christians worldwide. There are far more Christians than there are members of the LGBT community. In a real showdown you’d lose. Right now the gay community is doing amazingly well in Europe and the U.S. But a group so heavily outnumbered always has to be aware of the potential for backlash. And of course Christians are diverse. There are those who adhere to the traditional teachings but are becoming more accepting of gay rights overall (i.e. yours truly is an example.) A portion of this group will become angry (not me, of course) and switch sides if they are told that any dissent from the liberal position on gay rights is seen as “hateful” and will be censored by government. They have a right to be concerned that we may be on the road to government removing tax exemption for churches that don’t ordain gay clergy or perform gay marriages.

    These ads for “ex-gay therapy” (and I put it in quotation marks because I don’t know if it makes any sense) should be allowed to exist. Ignore them. In time, places like this won’t advertise anywhere but specialty magazines.

  14. Mary says

    “Being Gay isn’t the problem. Religious people saying it is wrong to be gay is the problem.”

    Then I guess the real problem is that free speech exists at all. Christianity is not going to say that homosexual behavior is now OK with God just because society has changed. I agree though that there is a time and place for one to express religious views that he knows will offend another person. I can’t see picketing outside a gay community center with signs that denounce gays as sinners or telling people “you’re going to hell.” But if we’re at the point where people can’t speak what has historically been a non-controversial teaching of Christianity then we’re on the verge of oppressing the religious – and yes, I did say “oppressing.”

    How about both Christians AND gays be free of oppression?

  15. Chadd says

    “there is a time and place for one to express religious views that he knows will offend another person” and that place is Church.

    In terms of oppression, I think it is safe to say that Christians, at a self proclaimed 72% of the US population, are not the ones dealing with the majority of oppression here. No one is passing a “Don’t say Jesus” law, Christian teenagers are never so bullied and ostracized by their peers that they commit suicide, and no one is trying on a National scale to prevent you from marrying the person that you love.

    Play the victim all you want Mary, but Christians are hardly oppressed.

  16. says

    I would argue that censoring these ads is wrong: a) offensive (at least in the US) context is not a good reason—let the idiots have their say; b) if the folks really think they’re ex-gay, let them say so.

    In the Seattle area, (Martin Luther) King Country Metro no longer accepts any political ads because they were so afraid of an ad which critiqued Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. A shameful episode of right wing censorship.

  17. Mary says

    For the record, I make no claims that Christians are currently being oppressed. But I stand by the claim that we are on the verge of beginning oppression if any expression of traditional Christian morality is being censored in public. Natually, with the advantage Christians have numerically, it is hard to imagine large numbers of Christian teens committing suicide or needed an “It gets better” campaign. But in any form, being marginalized and suffering hurts. Christians in the U.S. and elsehwere have a right to be concerned about the future if bus ads are being censored today.

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