Two men kissing? No problem, says watchdog

03 June 2016 - 09:42 By Staff reporter

The advertising watchdog has given a constitutional klap to viewers who complained about a TV advert showing two men kissing.Five people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about a We The Brave campaign advert encouraging gay men to practise safe sex.In the advert, a man kisses another man in front of his father before a condom is shown on screen. The tagline is: "We're brave enough to come out, s o we're definitely brave enough to cover up."The ASA said the two women and three men "expressed their discontent at the fact that same-sex relationships are being promoted on television without the possibility of shielding their children".Anova Health, which launched the campaign in partnership with the Elton John Aids Foundation, told the authority the complaints "highlight the level of stigmatisation and discrimination that men who have sex with men face".Anova Health added that the Bill of Rights forbade discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.The company said 10% of South African men were gay, and as they were the group most at risk of HIV infection, the campaign was a matter of public interest and urgency.Anova Health said the advert had no negative effect on children, stating: "The only impression created is that it is okay to be homosexual and to practise safe sex."The ASA directorate said: "Some complainants are offended by the fact that young men are openly homosexual. [But] the dignity and freedom to choose one's sexual orientation is constitutionally protected."Provided that the commercial does not depict inappropriate sexual acts or references, the directorate sees no reason to uphold an objection on the basis that same-sex relationships are offensive."As far as the condom was concerned, the directorate said that while "discussing sex and safe sex is likely an uncomfortable situation for many parents", exposure to sex-related content did not automatically harm children."If children are encouraged to ask for clarity on the commercial, parents are provided with the opportunity to assume control of the discussion, and explain in a manner they see fit as much as they deem necessary."

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