ASA tells gay kiss TV ad homophobes to jump


ASA tells gay kiss TV ad homophobes to jumpSouth Africa’s advertising regulator has ruled against homophobes who complained about an advert depicting two men kissing.

Five people – Karin Thompson, Claude Madell, Theodore Barkley, Wiekus Meyers and Thelma Tomasicchio – protested to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after the advert for the WeTheBrave safer sex campaign aired on television.

The ad shows two men of different races kissing in front of one of the men’s parents. It ends with the message, “We’re brave enough to come out… So we’re definitely brave enough to cover up,” and a condom being unwrapped.

According to the ASA, the complainants expressed their discontent at the fact that “same-sex relationships are being promoted on television without the possibility of shielding their children”.

Anova Health, the group behind the WeTheBrave campaign, argued in turn that the Constitution prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and guarantees freedom of speech.

The organisation said that in light of the vulnerability of gay men to HIV, the advert was a “matter of public interest and urgency”. It further stated that the advert “is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom”.

“The aim is not to shock, but to attract the relevant market through creating scenarios to which they relate,” Anova said.

The ASA agreed and dismissed the complaints. It noted that the objections were primarily based on the “fact that [the] young men are openly homosexual”.

“This cannot in itself be found to be offensive… as the respondent correctly noted, the dignity and freedom to choose one’s sexual orientation is constitutionally protected,” said the ASA.

The ASA further ruled that showing and discussing sex and safe sex does not “automatically imply that any exposure to sex-related content is likely to cause harm to children”.

It added that, “the image of a condom or of two men kissing cannot be said to be likely to cause mental, emotional or physical harm…”

Kaylin Mendes from FoxP2, the agency that created the ad, welcome the ASA’s decision. “We are really proud that our ad was passed and that the ASA ruled in our favour, but we’re not surprised,” he told Mambaonline.

“We pushed the limits in terms of challenging the status quo but we never stepped outside of the law,” Mendes explained

He noted that while “South Africa is a pretty conservative nation… the reaction to the ad reinforces why the campaign is so important”.

Mendes said: “We need to start rallying more people behind the equality clause and get more people talking about safer sex practices – not only for human rights but also to eradicate HIV. The more we talk about it, the better we will all be.”

Watch the “offensive” ad below.

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