London Mayor Boris Johnson was within his rights to ban conversion-therapy ads from city buses, according to a ruling by a magistrate today.
Justice Beverley Lang ruled that Johnson didn’t abuse his position last April as chairman of Transport for London (TFL) in blocking ads for Core Issues Trust, which claims it can help gay and lesbian Christians “develop their heterosexual potential.”
Lang criticized Johnson’s actions as being “procedurally unfair, in breach of its own procedures and [demonstrating] a failure to consider the relevant issues,” but said the larger issue at stake was the “risk of prejudice and homophobic attacks,” the ads presented.
The proposed posters read, “Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!” which Johnson said was “offensive to gays” and could potentially lead to retaliation against Christians.
Representatives for Core Issues Trust say Johnson’s ban was aimed at garnering votes from LGBT and progressive voters in the May elections: “It was clearly a highly charged issue, and the mayor took credit for the highly politically driven decision,” said Paul Diamond, who claimed his group has only respect “for people struggling with same-sex attraction.”
Diamond also claimed the proposed ads were a response to gay-positive bus-poster campaign by Stonewall that declared “Some people are gay. Get over it!” (At least one Christian bus driver refused to drive a coach bearing Stonewall’s ad.)
Not everyone in London’s LGBT community think Johnson made the right call, though. “They are offensive, said veteran activist Peter Tachell, “but being offensive is not a legitimate basis for banning anything—In a free society there is no right to not be offended.”