The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has chosen not to rule on an offensive anti-gay billboard put up by a Christian church in Pretoria because the advert has been changed.
Earlier this month, three complaints were laid with the ASA and the South African Human Rights Commission about the Light of the Nations billboard, which equated homosexuality with a number of social ills and suggested that these can be ‘cured’ through the Christian faith.
In a letter to the complainants last week, the ASA Directorate said that because the church had removed the word “homosexuality” from the billboard, it would not issue a ruling.
“The ASA has a long standing principle that holds that where an advertiser provides an unequivocal undertaking to withdraw or amend its advertising in a manner that addresses the concerns raised, the undertaking is accepted without considering the merits of the matter,” wrote ASA President ME King.
“Given this, there is no need for the Directorate to consider the merits of the matter at this time and the undertaking is accepted as an adequate resolution to the dispute at hand,” said King.
One of the complainants, Francois Joubert, told Mambaonline that despite the fact that there was no ruling, the complaints had been effective.
“The fact that the church removed the reference to homosexuality very soon after the complaint, tells me that they knew what they were doing was outside the ASA’s code and had to change the advert to avoid a ruling against them, which would have been further negative publicity against them,” he said.
While the Light of the Nations Church has removed the word “homosexual” from the billboard it has failed to apologise for its actions and the offence and harm caused.