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Key freedom of expression case heard at High Court following ban on bus adverts

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On Thursday (28 February) the High Court heard claims that Boris Johnson, Chair of Transport for London denied a Christian group the freedom to express its views on the legitimacy of therapy for those dealing with unwanted feelings of same-sex attraction. 

Any alternative to the homosexual lifestyle is deemed unacceptable and TfL are arguing that Christian hope must be suppressed for the ‘protection of morals’.
 
It was be argued that those who choose to move away from unwanted homosexual feelings should be free to do so under the law.

Core Issues Trust, a non-profit Christian ministry, was prohibited by the Mayor of London to run a bus advertising campaign calling for respect of individuals with homosexual issues who do not identify as "gay" but see themselves as "ex-gay" or "post-gay". 

The advertisements indirectly advocated the possibility that some individuals benefit from sexual re-orientation therapy and as men and women who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference and expression, should be respected in their choices to seek help in this way.

The Trust’s director Dr Mike Davidson, who is ex-homosexual, had entered into a contract with TfL to run the advertisements on 24 buses across London reading “Not Gay. Ex Gay, Post Gay and Proud.  Get over it”.

Mr Johnson intervened to stop the advertisements just hours before they were due to become public, claiming they would cause “offence” to homosexuals and possibly result in violence against the Christian community. 

However, he had sanctioned an alternative bus campaign by homosexual activist group Stonewall stating “Some people are Gay. Get over it”.  

On Thursday, the Trust will asked Mrs Justice Lang to reverse the ban on the basis that the Mayor had unlawfully restricted free speech, and had discriminated against the Trust by stifling one side of the debate on the issue.

It also pointed to advertisements permitted by TfL on other controversial issues including pregnancy and abortion advisory services, sexualised imagery of women and the recent campaign by the British Humanist Association in which the poster read ‘There’s probably no God’.

Comment

Dr Davidson, who is supported by the Christian Legal Centre, said: “This is all about being free to talk about these issues, and the right of individuals to take a sexual identity that is consistent with other values in their lives.  Those individuals who are post gay or ex gay are a sexual minority suffering discrimination because they are outside the purportedly ‘normative’ homosexual paradigm. 
 
“It was a mistake to assume these views we were expressing came from entrenched homophobia, and failed to recognise that people who want to walk away from their homosexual feelings are a group in their own right."

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Dr Davidson’s case, said:

“In a truly democratic society people should be free to choose to change their behaviour and move away from homosexual behaviour if they wish.

“The possibility that a section of the public will take ‘offence’ to a particular viewpoint is not a legitimate ground for restricting freedom of expression. The concept is simply being used by the State to censor opposing views and obliterate debate in the public sphere.

“Boris Johnson needs to realise his mistake and ensure there is freedom for all in the marketplace of ideas. He cannot prefer one group over another.”
 

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