British veteran LGBT rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, has argued that a Christian group should have the right to place anti-gay adverts on London buses, despite a mayoral ban.

The ads – which stated “Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!” and promoted the idea that homosexuality can be ‘cured’ – were in response to a pro-gay campaign by LGBT rights group Stonewall that proclaimed “Some people are gay. Get over it!”

London Mayor Boris Johnson, in his role as chairman of Transport for London (TFL), last April refused to allow the homophobic ads booked by Christian group Core Issues Trust to appear on the iconic buses in the capital on the basis that they would be deeply offensive to gay people.

Last week a high court judge upheld TFL’s ban, but noted that its actions were “procedurally unfair, in breach of its own procedures and demonstrated a failure to consider the relevant issues”.

Nevertheless, Justice Beverley Lang decided that these concerns were overruled by the “grave offence” that the ads would cause and the risk that they could lead to “prejudice and homophobic attacks”.

Tatchell, however, said on Friday that the adverts should not have been banned; on the grounds of free speech.

“The Christian bus adverts were homophobic and offensive. The insinuation that gay people can be cured is misleading. However, the language of the adverts was not abusive, menacing or threatening, The suggestion that they risked increasing public prejudice and hate crime is doubtful,” he argued.

“The judge, Justice Lang, made her decision to uphold the advert ban on the grounds that they are offensive to gay people. She is right. They are offensive but being offensive is not a legitimate basis for banning anything.

“In a free society there is no right to not be offended. Almost anything that anyone says can potentially be deemed offensive by someone. The law should not cater to the sensitivities of any section of the public. If it did, many adverts, plays, books and films would be banned,” stated Tatchell.

“It is not right for the gay community to turn around and adopt the oppressive, anti-free speech tactics of our past oppressors,” he added.

Justice Lang has given Core Issues Trust the right to appeal her ruling.

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