Christian group to sue Boris Johnson over 'gay cure' bus advertisements


The Christian group behind the recent attempt to place “gay cure” adverts on London buses have instructed lawyers to sue both the Mayor of London and the company that initially agreed to host the adverts after they were banned at the last minute, the Independent can reveal.

Aughton Ainsworth, a Manchester based law firm with a long track record of taking on controversial religious cases, have been hired by Anglican Mainstream to issue legal proceedings against both Boris Johnson and CBS Outdoor.

The adverts were meant to begin running next week and mimicked a recent campaign by the gay-rights group Stonewall which used the strapline “Some people are gay, get over it!”.

Using a similar font and colours, Christian groups had created rival adverts which read: “Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!”. Ex-gay and post-gay are terms used by evangelicals to refer to people who, through therapy and prayer, claim to have abandoned their homosexuality.

But London Mayor Boris Johnson ordered them to be pulled at the last minute arguing that they were offensive. He was backed by Transport for London who said the adverts were not “consistent with TfL’s commitment to a tolerant and inclusive London.”

It is believed lawyers for Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues, a charity which promotes so-called “reparative therapy” for gay men and women, are now looking at two potential legal avenues. The first is to sue for a potential breach of contract and the second is to claim that the group’s human rights were breached under articles nine and ten of the Human Rights Act.

So far every attempt by Christian groups to sue for similar complaints under human rights legislation have failed in the upper courts. But a bid by two employees over the right to visibly wear a crucifix at work is currently working its way through the European Court of Human Rights and is being closely watched by the Christian right.

Aughton Ainsworth has previously represented Bideford Council when their town hall prayer meetings were recently ruled unlawful – and owners of bed and breakfasts who have refused to open their doors to gay men and women on religious principle.

Lawyer Tom Ellis, who has been instructed to represent the two groups, told The Independent that he believed “there is clearly a legal claim for breach of contract and possible breach of my clients’ article nine and ten rights.” The Mayor of London would be included in any legal proceedings if Mr Johnson instructed TfL to ban the adverts.

Allan Craig, from Anglican Mainstream, said: “Thanks to Boris we have been given lots of extra publicity for our side but it’s still outrageous. We’re going to throw the book at him. To have Boris’ jackboot stamp down on legitimate debate is ludicrous.”

Both TfL and CBS Outdoor, which takes bookings for advertising space across London, defended their actions.

A spokesperson for CBS Outdoor said the company was “fully compliant with all the statutory restrictions and voluntary codes relating to advertising” and said that the gay cure bus adverts had been passed by the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Advertising Standards Authority. They said the referred the adverts to TfL because of the “sensitivity” of the content.

TfL said all adverts have to comply with their own advertising code. When CBS flagged the bus adverts as potentially controversial, TfL decided they breached two elements of their code banning any content that is likely to cause widespread offence or deploy language that is obscene or distasteful.

An insider said, “The Stonewall adverts met the code because they talked about tolerance. The second set of adverts were clearly not tolerant, but distasteful and divisive.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas