UK ‘Lesbian Kiss’ Ad for Harvey Nichols Draws Fire


A Harvey Nichols ad depicting what some complainants said depicted an inappropriate lesbian kiss has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority, the HuffPost reports:

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 17 complaints, nine that the images were unsuitable to be seen by children because they appeared to show a lesbian kiss, 10 that they were sexually explicit and two that the phrase "love thyself" in combination with the pictures was offensive on religious grounds.

Harvey Nichols pointed out that the ads did not depict a lesbian kiss but rather a woman kissing herself, which was also made clear by the text.

But the retailer disagreed that a lesbian kiss might be deemed offensive, irresponsible and unsuitable for children, arguing that "the advertising industry should be in the vanguard of those promoting and supporting the equalities espoused by anti-discrimination laws, including those concerning sexual orientation".

Said the ASA:

"Because we considered that it was sufficiently clear that the posters showed one woman about to kiss her mirror image, and because we also considered that they were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence even if interpreted differently, we concluded that the ads were not offensive, irresponsible or unsuitable for untargeted display because they appeared to portray a lesbian kiss."


  1. Strepsi says

    This “unsuitable for children” bull$#!% has got to stop. When I was a kid, EVERY SINGLE fairy tale and Disney movie had a kiss. Princesses kissing princes, Greek gods kissing goddesses, mommies kissing daddies. The ONLY thing these people mean is that children should never see gay people, which is bigoted and revolting.

  2. Gigi says

    @STREPSI I know, right? I think anything Kardashian is far more “unsuitable for children” than two gay people kissing.

  3. rise says

    This seems more like a lesbian kiss designed to titillate sleazy straight guys. Definitely exploitative and does not help the gay rights cause.

  4. Derrick from Philly says


    what’s the significance of your new posting name? I’m always curious when Towleroad regulars change their posting name.

    So your new name is “Rise”. Why? Does Viagra have anything to do with the change?

  5. Francis says

    Well, the squeemish homophobes will have to learn how to deal with a world where corporations are less fearful of reaching out to our community and being provocative in this way. Stepsi is right, the double standards here are incredibly offensive. Heck, violence on TV is watched without a care but when it comes to homosexuality, hell breaks loose. It’s ridiculous.

  6. Jay says

    “…the phrase ‘love thyself’ in combination with the pictures was offensive on religious grounds.”

    Whether it was a woman kissing herself…or another woman – how is loving thyself offensive to religion? Are you saying people shouldn’t love themselves? That religion teaches us to hate ourselves. And that teaching us to love ourselves is offensive to the goal of religion to force us to hate ourselves? Or are you saying because they used the work “thyself” it was somehow targeting the religious minded because the big book of 2000+ year old fables is still printed with “thy”s and “thou”s? If that is the case…have you trolls gone back and given special attention to Shakespeare, Marlowe, etc? “Thy” is not a religious word…its a word religious people use because they are too lazy to drag their butts out of the middle ages.

    Get over your damn selves!

  7. rise says

    This ad appeals to the homophobic double standard of sleazy straight guys. Lesbians are ‘hot’, gay guys are gross….

  8. Rick says

    I initially thought the same thing, Rise, but then I realized they were advertising a retail store which targets mainly women consumers rather than beer or cars or some other “guy product”–which made me doubt my initial impulse.

    On the other hand, my guess is that the creative direction behind the ad did, indeed, come from straight men, and that they were driven in their choice of image in part by the fact that they themselves were titillated by it.

  9. ble.d_out.color says

    Did no one else notice huffpo’s math fail?

    9+10+2=21 complaints, not 17. Just saying.

    Also trollololol at teh reactionaries who found this ad offensive. Has to be one of the most tame ads in print. Certainly better than some of the ads depicting excessive drinking, sex, drugs, and violence that kids see everyday that span multiple industrie, oftentimes on the streets or otherwise “family friendly” channels.Whatever that means. But oh noes, teh gayz! B*tch, please.