Christian campaigners to seek judicial review of Mayor’s decision to ban anti-gay bus ads

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The groups behind the ‘ex-gay’ London bus adverts have confirmed that they are intending to seek a judicial review of the decision by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London to ban the adverts from being displayed by Transport for London. The group is also considering bringing legal action for breach of contract against advertising display agency CSBO.

Anglican Mainstream and the Core Issues Trust had booked space on 26 London buses for an advert which read ‘Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!’ in a direct response to Stonewall’s ‘Some people are gay. Get over it!’ campaign. Both groups advocate therapy to turn gay people straight, a practice condemned by professional bodies.

Two weeks ago, reported claims that the groups had instructed Manchester lawyers Aughton Ainsworth to represent them in a legal challenge of the advert ban.

Today Rev Lynda Rose, a spokeswoman for Anglican Mainstream said: “Since Boris Johnson intervened, there seems to be a much broader issue about freedom of speech at stake and that is weighing heavily upon us. We feel it is not right that people are not able to express legitimate views that are not an incitement to hatred.” broke the news on the 12th of April that the groups had booked 26 advertising spots on London buses. This was followed by stories in the mainstream media prompting an eruption of criticism across the capital and the country leading the Mayor of London to intervene and ban the advertisements.

MayorWatch reported that Transport for London said the responsibility for approving the advertisement rested with display ad agency CBSO and that CBSO had used TFL policy to decide on whether to approve the message. TFL said it “reserve[s] the right to overrule them if we do not agree with their interpretation as in this case.”

Announcing that the adverts would not go ahead, Boris Johnson said of the campaign: “London is one of the most tolerant cities in the world and intolerant of intolerance. It is clearly offensive to suggest that being gay is an illness that someone recovers from and I am not prepared to have that suggestion driven around London on our buses.”

David Pink, the UK Council for Psychotherapy’s Chief Executive said: “We are shocked that despite their continued claims to be a tolerant organisation, Core Issues Trust seem to think it’s better to spend money on a bus advertising campaign that reinforces the type of messages that lead to homophobic attitudes in the community.

“As the leading professional psychotherapy organisation, we are absolutely committed to our members providing a safe space for individuals to explore their sexuality.

“We utterly condemn professionals who practice ‘reparative therapy’ as sexuality is not a symptom which needs treating or correcting.”

The Royal College of Psychiatrists “believes strongly in evidence-based treatment. There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish.”