ASA accused of bias over investigation into Christian advert
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has been accused of bias after it placed a pro-traditional marriage advertisement under official investigation whilst its own Chairman simultaneously campaigns for same-sex ‘marriage’.
Christian blog writer Cranmer was put under investigation last week by the ASA for posting an advert on behalf of the Coalition for Marriage (C4M), which campaigns to preserve the current legal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Christian Concern is a leading member of the Coalition.
The ASA has received complaints that the advert is ‘homophobic’ for supporting traditional marriage and the advert could now be banned.
Yet critics have noted that the Chairman of the ASA, Lord Chris Smith of Finsbury, is also Vice President of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and a leading supporter of same-sex marriage. Only this week Lord Smith recorded a message for the “Out4Marriage” website, expressing his support for same-sex marriage.
Lord Smith is now the subject of a formal complaint to the House of Lords Judicial Office over his failure to declare his interest in the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.
The ASA has admitted that he has a “conflict of interest” on the matter but has so far resisted calls for Lord Smith to resign.
Colin Hart, campaign director of C4M, said:
“There is a political campaign and there seems to be a willingness on the part of the ASA to do its uppermost to clamp down on freedom of speech and debate in this country. We should all be very worried about this investigation.”
Freedom of Belief
The writer “Cranmer” is not the first person to be penalised for supporting the current legal definition of marriage since the national debate on same-sex marriage started.
Last week the Law Society banned a marriage event due to be held by Christian Concern, claiming that holding an event to discuss and support the current legal definition of marriage was contrary to ‘diversity’.
Anglican Lay Reader Peter Gowlland was recently suspended for two months by All Saints Church in Sanderstead for suggesting that congregation members should sign the Coalition for Marriage petition, which opposes any redefinition of marriage.
And Christian bus driver, Arthur McGeorge, is currently facing disciplinary action for circulating the same Coalition for Marriage petition at work during his lunch break.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:
“We have finally reached the stage where believing that marriage should be between a man and a woman, which is the current legal definition of marriage, is now considered a homophobic belief. This is how extreme the assault on freedom of speech and freedom of belief has become in this nation.
“How much worse will it get if same-sex marriage is actually introduced?”