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Quebec Hopes To Say Adieu To Homophobia With $7.5 Million Media Campaign

A new series of TV ads aimed at tackling anti-gay stereotypes have begun airing in Quebec, part of a $7.5 million dollar campaign to stamp out homophobia in the Canadian province.

Launched March 3, the public-service announcements depict everyday scenes that force viewers to question how open-minded they really are when it comes to homosexuality. In one clip (above) a man greets his partner at the icone_camph_web-aairport—it’s only in the last few second that we realize his partner is another man. In a second PSA, a woman returns home to a surprise party—and again, at the end, we see her partner is female.

As the scenes end, a narrator asks “Does this change what you were thinking 20 seconds ago?”

The television ads—as well as an English-language radio spot and a Fight Homophobia website—are part of a larger five-year plan by 11 government departments to attack anti-gay bias. (Other plans include establishing an office dedicated to combating homophobia and increasing financial support for LGBT groups.

The PSAs are relative subtle—not addressing blood-in-the streets, but rather more passive forms of homophobia and stereotyping. “We learned in our research that Quebec is viewed as open to sexual diversity,” said Martine Delagrave, who helped develop the commercials. “But homophobia still exists and it still exists in Quebec. Our idea for a first campaign was to shed some light, to have some awareness about how open we really are.”

Provincial Justice Minister Bertrand St-Arnaud says the ad campaign is the first of its kind in North America.

There were a handful of complaints—nine in all—mostly about the sight of two men and two women kissing in a government PSA. “It’s not a campaign that has a goal to shock,” explained Delagrave. “It’s a Quebec government campaign, it’s supposed to be positive.”

More ads, focusing on issues like same-sex parenting, are expected in 2014.