Do we excuse AdShel for caving to homophobes?

Children in homosexual relationships are subject to emotional abuse. Legitimising gay marriage is like legalising child abuse.

-Ms Wendy Francis, Family First lead Senate candidate in Queensland.

We live in a multicultural, equal-rights abiding, Western nation. It’s 2011. I could understand if an advertising company pulled homosexual ads three decades ago, or in a Muslim country for example, as the issue of homosexuality was / is arguably the biggest taboo out there in less progressive society. I could understand if they didn’t run the ads in the first place, back then, or elsewhere, where homosexuality is still seen as illegal. But today? Here? Legally and politically, is there any justification at all?

Here’s the back story:

“In 2011 my partner and I were selected to appear in an advertisement for QAHC (Queensland Association of Healthy Communities – The picture you see on this event is the final product. The aim of this campaign is to promote safe sex for gay men, but also for the wider community. We also felt that this campaign and the exposure these advertisements granted would help gain a wider level of acceptance of the gay community. The image displays not only love and tenderness; you can clearly see our engagement ring and the Christian cross which Anthony wears around his neck. We are real people, and this campaign is about real people. We have been together for six and a half years, we’ve been engaged since August last year, and just last week we were approved to become foster parents, which will now be happening very soon. We are real people, with a real life, in real love. 

The AdShel anti HIV / safe-sex campaign that staff thought couldn't possibly be left up in public because OF COURSE taking it down is less offensive.

This evening, Adshel, the company that distributed our ads to bus shelters across Brisbane, have WITHOUT the consent of QAHC, removed all of our advertisements. This has been due to (over 100 complaints) sent from Wendy Francis and The Australian Christian Lobby Group. Adshel has bowed to BLATANT homophobia and in 2011 there is NO PLACE FOR THIS. To read the complaints, visit:

We are asking everyone to help us take a stand and contact Adshel and demand that the adverts be put back up in their original locations.

UPDATE: 2nd JUNE 2011: SUCCESS! Adshel have now Put the adds BACK UP. BUT Our fight does not stop here. We are still campaigning ADSHEL to apologise publicly to QAHC for their disgusting treatment of them as a client. Failing to advise them BEFORE they removed the ads, which they had PAID for. Their actions were unprofessional, disrespectful and disrupted (ultimately for the better) a lovely campaign with a positive image.

UPDATE 4th of JUNE 2011: STILL NO APOLOGY! We would like to encourage EVERYONE to come and attend this march with us” {more info on Facebook Event page}

It astounds me that the Government of the day will head to the view of the Australian Christian Lobby and not that of the general public! Jim Wallace and his fellow bigots in the ACL are quite simply anti-democratic. The polls show majority support for same sex marriage, we still don’t have that in Australia and most Australian’s are pro-choice on abortion yet Victoria and the ACT are the only two places that have abortion decriminalised. Oh and we can’t buy R rated video games legally in Australia thanks to the ACL. When will Governments realise they are NOT elected by the ACL. When will we have a Government that literally tells the nanny state zealots in the ACL to mind their own PC‘s and game consoles, mind their own bodies and mind their own marital status! -Lucas Eldridge

Although the underlying issue begins with the ACL, the propagation of this issue lies with AdShel. Ironically they have provided much free media exposure for the campaign they sought to bury, but at what cost to themselves? Is bowing to the whims of every baseless complaint to protect your own neck, the way advertising professionals should operate?

My argument is this: If AdShel PR had any common sense, they would have recognised that they are replacing one baseless offense with a far more serious offense: a backlash from the homosexual support side seems so obvious that you must truly be too thick to be employed in advertising.

I’m a Christian and while I’m ashamed and appalled at the Australian Christian Lobby, I do believe Adshel staff need to seriously question whether they know how to run an advertising business if they don’t even know what acceptable advertising standards are, regardless of whether they receive one, one hundred, or one thousand complaints. If you can’t use common sense and diplomacy when it comes to bowing to tiny minority pressure on what would – and has – turned into a total shitstorm, then obviously someone at AdShel PR needs to reassess their career suitability.

Obviously, rival JCDecaux recognise the unprofessionalism of AdShel, doing their homework on what the majority of Australians support and cleverly capitalising on the backlash:

The day after Adshel caved in to public pressure to put back up 50 safe gay sex posters it had taken down following complaints from the Australian Christian Lobby, rival JCDecaux is running the campaign at a heavily discounted rate.

Queensland Association of Healthy Communities’ ‘Rip and Roll’ campaign will run around Brisbane on JCDecaux’s premium bus shelter panels for a fortnight, for a fraction of the cost of a regular campaign.

JCDecaux’s decision followed a call from UM’s CEO Mat Baxter, who came up with the idea. Baxter said: “What happened yesterday did not send a good message about our industry. Well done JCDecaux for taking a leadership position and making a positive statement about our business.”

He added: “Ironically, the ACL, which tried to manipulate consumer feedback, has just doubled the effectiveness of the campaign it tried to get banned.”

Wendy Francis. What *is* offensive is wearing that much foundation.

And now for some curveballs:

What everyone is not getting is that Wendy Francis campaigns against ALL sexual advertising on billboards for the protection of children! She’s been involved in a number of heterosexual sexual advertisements being removed, it’s got nothing to do with homophobia, but it sounds more like a case of ignorant knee jerk reactions from HETROphobic people getting on their soap box! Shame on you for not getting your facts right first. Lee Irons

Lol how on earth is two men hugging a sexual gesture? You hug your friends…does that mean you want to have sex with them? Siobhan Legge

That poster is not sexual! The picture itself is of two people hugging. Wish everyone would grow up. I’m sure kids have seen worse.. & will continue to see worse. It’s life! Chrissie Thompson

Obviously Lee hasn’t bothered looking at facts. Yes she has campaigned against condom ads and longer lasting sex ads apparently. But the facts here show a clear homophobic argument from her and ACL against this poster (also try reading their website and her twitter comments for facts on her beliefs from her own mouth). And secondly there are plenty of hetro people here that are offended by these ignorant homophobic attitudes. Hetrophobic – what an insult to intelligence. Shame on you for not getting your facts right first.  -Mark Wallace



mUmbrella is however, of the opinion that AdShel do indeed deserve our sympathy, and here’s why:

The outdoor industry is currently caught between two opposing forces.

There is genuine pressure on the industry over “community standards”.

Adshel is a key member of the Outdoor Media Association – indeed the company’s boss Steve McCarthy only just finished a stint as chairman.

And the OMA is very aware of the risk of more legislation around outdoor. As we reported earlier this month, a Parliamentary inquiry into the very topic of community standards has just wrapped up and is yet to report its findings.

So the industry needs to be seen as willing to react quickly to legitimatecommunity concern. Sexualised billboards near schools, the now banned AMI “longer lasting sex” billboards spring to mind. Better to act when genuine offence is caused than to wait for tougher legislation or a bureaucratic ratings system that would send ad dollars away from outdoor. it’s the key principle behind the whole advertising industry hanging on to self-regulation.



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Categories: Beliefs, Morals, Multiculturalism, Politics, Law

Author:Andrew Beato

CEO, Chief Editor and founder of Intentious. Passionate comment enthusiast, amateur philosopher, Quora contributor, audiobook and general knowledge addict.

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One Comment on “Do we excuse AdShel for caving to homophobes?”

  1. James Hill
    June 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    The ACL concealed the source of the complaint and the complaint was framed not as a protest against homosexuality but as a complaint against overly sexualised imagery. They ACL reasoning was that it showed two people kissing and hugging and holding a condom, which was therefore “foreplay.” The UK just instituted legislation to curtail sexualised imagery, Adshel would be crazy in this current environment not to take complaints about sexualised advertising very seriously.

    Adshel should have researched the complaint better, but it is unfair to castigate them for bowing to perceived public pressure and then try and use public pressure to make them change their behaviour again.

    Adshel clearly aren’t homophobic, otherwise they wouldn’t have run the ads in the first place. If they’re guilty of anything it’s putting the perceived opinions of the general public before their own beliefs, something every for profit company in the world does.

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