Belfast Free Presbyterian church rapped over homophobic advert

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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 on decency.

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 ASA said today the ad breached CAP Code clause 5.1 (Decency).

“The ad prominently stated “Published by the Kirk Session of Sandown Free Presbyterian Church” and recognised that readers would understand that the text was representative of the beliefs of a specific group and indicative of their opinion only,” the ASA ruling stated.

“We considered, however, that some of the text used in relation to homosexuality, for example, “… declaring it to be an abomination …”, “… God’s judgement upon a sin …”, “… remove the guilt of their wrongdoing …”, “… a cause for regret that a section of the community desire to be known for a perverted form of sexuality …”, went further than the majority of readers were likely to find acceptable.

“We considered that particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of sexual orientation, and concluded that this ad had caused serious offence to some readers.”

However the ASA did not uphold complaints that the ad was likely to provoke hatred or violence against the LGBT community.

“On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code clauses 8.1 (Matters of opinion) and 11.1 (Violence and anti-social behaviour) but did not find it in breach,” according to the ASA ruling.

“The ad should not appear again in its current form.

“We told SFPC to take more care in future to avoid causing offence and advised them to seek a view from the CAP Copy Advice team before publishing future marketing material.”

Four people complained that the ad’s content was homophobic and therefore offensive, while six complained that the ad was likely to provoke hatred and violence against the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender LGBT community.

“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.”

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.