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Anglican Mainstream accuses London Mayor of Censorship

Church of England Newspaper 20 April

THE MAYOR of London has banned a campaign launched by Christian groups promoting ex-gay ministry on buses in the capital. Boris Johnson, who is currently campaigning for re-election next month, told Transport for London (TfL) to pull the Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues Trust posters within two hours of the story hitting the media. The advertisements, which read: ‘Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!’ were scheduled in response to a samesex marriage-focussed campaign, by the leading gay rights group Stonewall. Their posters read: ‘Some people are gay. Get over it!’ Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues stress TfL, which is chaired by Mr Johnson, previously cleared the posters.

In addition, the media company CBS Outdoor, who sells advertisement space on the capital’s transport system, admitted the Committee of Advertising Practice also passed the advert for display. It is understood TfL was due to make £10,000 from the deal. Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream said: “We created a very modest counter bus campaign which had gone through all the necessary checks and been given the green light. However, it was pulled by the Mayor of London at the last minute, proving our point that we cannot even discuss these matters in public.” Mr Johnson does not believe the campaign raises the perceived issues in an acceptable way, however: “It is clearly offensive to suggest that being gay is an illness that someone recovers from and I am not prepared to have that suggestion driven around London on our buses.”

Dr Sugden claimed even Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of Stonewall, admitted censorship was wrong. Since the ban, the group told us they are delighted the issues surrounding homosexuality and the extension of same-sex marriage are being addressed in the public square. However they are concerned debate on therapeutic and other forms of help for those with same-sex attraction is continually ruled out because it is deemed politically incorrect.

Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues Trust believe it is important to help those unhappy with their homosexual feelings to ‘develop their heterosexual potential’. They argue scientific research has not yet found a gay gene and sexuality is fluid. This week, Dr Sugden said: “If people believe the myth that they were ‘born this way’, then gay demands for marriage appear more reasonable and harder to challenge. That is why this campaign is vitally important.”

Director of Core Issues, Dr Mike Davidson, disagreed with Stonewall’s reaction to the proposed legislation on marriage: “Their campaign rides roughshod over individuals who by conscience reject the simplistic notion that their choice to move out of homosexuality is because of internalised prejudice taught by society, completely ignoring the profound effect on sexual identity, established by highly respected scientific study of childhood experience.”

Anglican Mainstream are now concerned about the presentation of their position and claims within the media. They reassert science has not yet proven that people are ‘born gay’ but say they have never used the term ‘cure’ because that is inaccurate.

Dr Sugden spoke of their methods involving ‘a voluntarily-taken journey of self-exploration and understanding, not a pill or a prayer (though praying can help).’

The bus adverts were part of a larger campaign by Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues Trust, affirming the conventional definition of marriage.

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