ASA complaint over church billboard

2012-07-11 07:44
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Johannesburg - A complaint has been laid with the Advertising Standards Authority about an allegedly homophobic church billboard in Pretoria.

The billboard features the naked torso of a man surrounded by the words "drug abuse", "promiscuity", "alcoholism" and "homosexuality". It is captioned: "whom the son sets free is free indeed", and is signed: "Light of the Nation Church".

"What annoyed me is they lumped homosexuality with other things such as drug abuse, alcoholism and promiscuity. Those are behaviours that people can control," said complainant Francois Joubert, from Pretoria.

Billboard ‘unethical’

He first saw the billboard a week ago and again while driving with his spouse Werner Nieuwoudt on Sunday, when they photographed it on the corner of Solomon Mahlangu and Bendeman streets in the Silver Lakes area.

In his complaint, Joubert contended that the billboard was inaccurate and unethical because it suggested that a sexual orientation, such as homosexuality, could be changed with the church's help.

The local Gay rights group OUT also condemned the billboard.

"It uses discrimination against the homosexual community in order to bring people to their services," said OUT director Dawie Nel.

He said the billboard would cause some homosexuals to believe they could be "cured", but instead caused them harm.

Word to be removed

Light of the Nations Church senior pastor Deric Linley said in a statement on Monday that the word "homosexuality" would be removed from the billboard.

He said the billboard was intended to "highlight aspects and challenges of everyday life" and not "sins".

"It was never the intention of Light of the Nations to discriminate against any group, but purely to offer a non-judgmental refuge for people dealing with issues in their personal life," Linley said.

ASA senior consultant for consumer complaints Selloane Khosi confirmed that a complaint about the billboard had been brought against the church.
Read more on:    advertising standards authority  |  gay rights

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