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Ad featuring men hugging pulled in Queensland

in NEW ZEALAND, 04/06/2011

HIV campaigners across the Tasman are utterly outraged after a safe sex promotion featuring a fully-clothed hugging gay couple has been pulled from Queensland bus shelters. The Queensland Association for Healthy Communities' "Rip and Roll" advertisements were launched only a week ago, but have today been canned by Adshel after about 30 complaints.

The adverts feature a black and white image of a gay couple embracing, holding an unopened red condom packet.

The complaints were a targeted campaign by the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and its Queensland State Director Wendy Francis has applauded the decision of Adshel. She says it went against prevailing community standards to introduce sexuality to young children through forced exposure in public.

"A massive groundswell of people power has won the day when it comes to the bus shelters which have been pulled down over night."

Healthy Communities is "deeply disappointed" by the decision and Executive Director Paul Martin says the advert is in no way explicit or offensive to the average Queenslander. "The complaints claim that depictions of gay people and discussion of sexual health are not appropriate for the general community. We reject these claims outright,” he says.

“2010 saw the highest number of people diagnosed with HIV than at any time since testing began in the mid 1980s. Sixty five per cent of these diagnoses are among gay men. Now, more than ever, it is important that we get the safe sex message out to Queenslanders, particularly gay men, wherever they may be."

Martin says the advertisement is quite conservative when compared with other public advertisements for a range of commercial products and previous sexual health campaigns by the Australian and Queensland Governments.

“The Australian Christian Lobby has used homophobia dressed up as protecting children to have an important public education campaign removed. ACL’s Queensland Director Wendy Francis has previously been criticised and forced to apologise for sending out a homophobic tweet likening gay marriage to ‘legalising child abuse’. They are now trying to have gay people erased from the public sphere."

In 2007, the New Zealand AIDS Foundation's Safe Sex Poster Boy campaign ad in an Auckland bus shelter was the subject of a homophobic attack. It was defaced with anti-gay graffiti, and then smashed.

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