ASA Adjudication on The Christian Congress for Traditional Values
The Christian Congress for Traditional Values
PO Box 9195
6 February 2008
Number of complaints:
A mobile poster for the Christian Congress for Traditional Values (CCTV) showed a family consisting of a man, a woman and a young son and daughter. Body copy beside it stated “GAY AIM: ABOLISH THE FAMILY.” CCTV’s website address was printed beneath the body copy and a banner across the picture of the family identified CCTV and showed a logo.
The complainant believed the ad suggested all gay people were against families and family values. He challenged whether:
1. this was an accurate representation of the views of gay people and
2. the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence or condone anti-social behaviour.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
1. CCTV said they believed the common understanding in the UK of what constituted a family was a married man and woman, both of whom had been born in that gender, and their children. They believed this understanding stemmed from the UK being a traditionally Christian country with the concept of a family being rooted in Judeo-Christian principles.
They believed the homosexual community was represented in the media and in the consciousness of the population at large by a public campaign for legislative and moral change, and that the ad represented their views in a factually accurate way. CCTV believed it was legitimate for them to state their opinion that these were the views of the public campaign. They did not believe the ad suggested that all gay people shared those views. They believed the campaigners who sought same-sex marriage did not do so simply to achieve the same domestic situation that was available to heterosexuals but also because they aimed to redefine and abolish the traditional family. They said it was that aim to which the poster referred. CCTV cited the 1971 Gay Liberation Front Manifesto documents which described the traditional family unit (husband, wife and children) as working against homosexuality, and which stated "We must aim at the abolition of the family." CCTV said that other aims listed in the 1971 Gay Liberation Front Manifesto and which had resulted in legislative or social changes included the teaching of homosexuality in schools; equalising the age of consent for homosexuals and heterosexuals; using the media to detract from the traditional family as the norm and introducing legislation to prevent discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace. CCTV cited a similar manifesto published by the National Coalition of Gay Organisations in the USA in 1972, and several authors, individual campaigners and organisations who had publicly stated similar aims in the UK and abroad to illustrate how widely held they believed the views were.
2. CCTV said their claim was their genuinely-held belief for which they believed they had provided adequate substantiation. They believed it was legitimate for them to highlight their concern that traditional Christian family values and religious liberty were threatened by the legislative changes homosexual groups campaigned for, and that there was a place in a democratic society for views both for and against to be expressed. They believed the potential for the ad to cause offence was minimal because the aim to redefine the concept of the family was so widely and openly acknowledged by the homosexual community. They acknowledged the ad might have caused offence or irritation or was unwelcome to people who disagreed with the statement but they did not believe the reaction was so widespread as to make it unacceptable. They said they did not intend the ad to result in violent reaction or antisocial behaviour.
The ASA noted CCTV's argument that they believed it was legitimate that their ad represented their point of view and considered CCTV was flagged clearly as the author of the ad. We considered, however, that in the absence of information to the contrary, the statement was likely to be understood to represent the prevailing view of the gay community. We noted the evidence CCTV provided indicated that some sections of the gay community had spoken out strongly against the traditional concept of the family. We also noted, however, that the evidence was based mainly on a document published by the Gay Liberation Front, a radical gay group which disbanded nearly 30 years ago. We noted that the language used and claim made in the ad did not appear to reflect the stance taken by today's mainstream campaigns by the gay community which expressed a desire for the responsibilities of gay people caring for children to be equal with those of heterosexual people. We also noted that a family unit today was increasingly less likely to necessarily comprise a married man and woman and their children. We considered CCTV had not supported the claim.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 8.1 (Matters of opinion).
We noted CCTV's argument that they believed it was legitimate that they were permitted to express their genuinely held beliefs.
As noted in point 1 above, we considered the statement was likely to be understood to represent the prevailing view of the gay community when that was not the case. We considered the statement and the way it appeared was likely to cause offence both to the mainstream gay community and supporters of equality, and was likely to be seen as controversial and possibly inflammatory by a significant number of people who saw the poster in an untargeted medium. We concluded that the poster was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and might lead to antisocial behaviour.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Social responsibility), 5.1 and 5.2 (Decency) and 8.1 (Matters of opinion).
We told CCTV to ensure future campaigns were not presented in a way that could cause serious or widespread offence or which might lead to antisocial behaviour.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)