Exclusive: Regulator to assess claim Coalition for Marriage ad ‘misleads’ readers

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The Advertising Standards Authority will assess complaints received about a Coalition for Marriage advert which claims 70 percent of Britons do not want gay people to be allowed to marry.

The Coalition for Marriage’s advert ran in the edition of Country Life magazine released last week to a considerable backlash against the publication.

A second banner advert has appeared online this week including on the political blog Order Order.

The Coalition for Marriage is campaigning against proposals to allow gay couples equal access to marriage through a petition which reached 300,000 signatures last week and now, following publication of the adverts, has nearly 380,000.

The ASA confirmed to PinkNews.co.uk today it would be assessing complaints it had received that the advert was “misleading” and that it was “offensive” to see whether it may have broken the advertising codes.

The advert says: “70% of people say keep marriage as it is”, referring with an asterisk to a controversial ComRes poll commissioned by Catholic Voices, and a series of pictures of straight couples on their wedding days.

Numerous Country Life readers have written to the publication on its Facebook profile and on Twitter saying they will no longer buy the magazine after it ran the advert.

The controversial ComRes poll itself asked respondents whether they agreed with the statement: “Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman”.

As an analysis by PinkNews.co.uk discussed at the time, the poll statement did not specify that marriage should be between a man and a woman exclusively. The question did not mention gay marriages or any other alternative to the status quo when asking respondents to consider whether the current definition of marriage should remain.

Media lawyer Mark Stephens of Finers Stephens Innocent told PinkNews.co.uk the advert “seems to be grossly misleading”.

Last month, the Women’s Institute declined to run advertising for the Coalition for Marriage saying it “could be seen as an endorsement . . . to members”.

A representative of the WI told the Coalition: “We do also welcome all women to the WI and this campaign could offend many of our members.”

The controversy is similar to that which arose in Scotland when the Scotland for Marriage group began running a series of anti-marriage equality adverts.

In one such advert, 53 percent of just over a thousand Scottish voters asked by the Opinion Research Business said they would agree with the statement that gays should not ‘be allowed to redefine marriage’.

Scotland for Marriage claimed the poll, which was described by the Equality Network as being “so flawed that it’s hard to believe any reputable polling agency would agree to take on the job”, showed there was not majority support for “this very contentious and divisive issue”.

After an ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph showed more people were in favour of equal marriage than opposed to it this year, headlines in the paper, which opposes marriage equality, began to focus instead on a finding that 78% of the respondents thought it unnecessary to fast-track the legislation.

PinkNews.co.uk has reproduced the Coalition for Marriage’s online banner advert in question below:

Exclusive: Regulator to assess claim Coalition for Marriage ad ‘misleads’ readers

The Coalition for Marriage could not be reached immediately today.

The Advertising Standards Authority website allows those who have seen the advertisement and would like to complain about it to do so online.

The petition launched in support of equal marriage proposals by Conor Marron and his partner, the Coalition for Equal Marriage, has received 38,000 signatures.