Ad watchdog rejects call to review "offensive" same-sex marriage TV ad

Nicola Riches
By Nicola Riches | 11 March 2015

The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) has admitted it has received a “large number of complaints” about an Australian Marriage Forum ad broadcast on Channel Seven and Nine over the Mardi Gras weekend, but is sticking with its decision not to bring it to the board for adjudication.

On its blog yesterday, ASB stated that despite the ad sparking outrage for its dogmatic stance on same-sex marriage and child-rearing, it falls under the scope of ‘political advertising,’ an area which does not fall within the scope of the AANA Code of Ethics.

“Adjudicating on complaints about political advertising could be regarded as unduly restricting the implied constitutional freedom of political communication or interfering with the political process,” says the ASB.

The blog posting alone has opened up ASB to a series of openly-published remarks and complaints. Among them, Ian Jordan, said: “If it’s an ad on television and it’s not linked (to) or aimed at or by a political party then my dear fellow Australians you have an obligation to adjudicate on what I and many others find offensive.

Another online commenter, Nikki, said: “This isn’t political in any way, it is pure hate. It is like you are happily allowing Australia to return to the 40s in America. What next, gay people have to sit at the back of the bus? Get it together ABS.”

Jude McAuley, who writes that she works in advertising, commented: “I know the amount of hoops we have to jump through to prove every tiny claim made, and yet you let this offensive rubbish through. All true and correct is it? No disclaimers required? It’s sad, guys. You’re supposed to be protecting viewers from horrible crap like this.”

The ASB is standing firm, stating that “It is important to the board’s integrity that it is seen as an impartial adjudicator free from perceptions of political bias".

Almost half a million people have watched the ad on YouTube. It is possible to report the ad on YouTube, although it remains to be seen if the video site will respond.

The ad, should you want to watch it, can be viewed below.

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