Homophobic church advert criticised by advertising standards body

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An advert placed in a local paper in Northern Ireland by Sandown Free Presbyterian Church ahead of this summer’s Pride event in Belfast breached the Advertising Standards Authority code.

The 540-word ad was placed in the Belfast News Letter on August 1st, the day before Pride.

It called gay people perverts and called on “religious” people to publicly oppose gay rights and Pride events.

The BBC reports that the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that the ad breached decency codes.

It reportedly said the advert must not appear again and in future “particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of sexual orientation.”

The ASA refused to comment on the BBC report.

“The act of sodomy is a grave offence to every Bible believer who, in accepting the pure message of God’s precious word, express the mind of God by declaring it to be an abomination,” the advert read.

“This unequivocal statement clearly articulates God’s judgment upon a sin that has been only made controversial by these who are attempting to either neutralise or remove the guilt of their wrongdoing.

“The issue of human rights is no longer a basis for this parade, as successive governments have legislated for the lowering of the age of consent, the authorisation of civil partnerships and the inheritance rights of a nominated partner.

“This parade is not a welcome addition to our city, neither is it a positive celebration of a profitable lifestyle flaunting a form of sexuality that generations of men and women have righteously resisted and by gods grace will continue to resist.”

The News Letter said in a statement it would examine the ASA adjudication, which has not been made public yet.

The Free Presbyterian Church was founded 56 years ago by Ian Paisley Snr, former First Minister of Northern Ireland.

It mounts a yearly counter-protest against Belfast Pride.

Last year veteran politician Paisley resigned as leader of the Church after coming under pressure from its members over gay rights issues.

The fundamentalist Christian sect were outraged that Mr Paisley and other members of his Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) ignored their objections to government financial support for Pride marches, which they called a “celebration of sodomy.”

Thousands attended gay Pride in Belfast in August, where DUP MP Iris Robinson, who is the wife of the First Minister, was mocked.

She ‘appeared’ at the event in the guise of masks carried by Pride participants.

More than 4,000 people turned out despite poor weather conditions. Thousands more watched the parade.

A float titled the ‘Iris Mobile’ joined the procession along the Belfast streets with a giant papier-mâché image of Mrs Robinson.

In July she was reported to the police after she compared homosexuality to child abuse.

She told a House of Commons committee: “There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children.

“There must be sufficient confidence that the community has the best possible protection against such perverts.”

She previously said that gays could be turned straight with psychiatric help.