Australia: Safe Sex Ads to Return to Bus Shelters

Ads advocating protected sex are set to return to Brisbane bus stops after being removed following complaints. The ads depict a fully dressed same-sex couple grasping a wrapped condom.

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) accused the "Rip and Roll" campaign of illustrating foreplay and being inappropriate for public display. The week of the ad's debut, the advertising firm Adshel, the billboard vendor Goa and the Advertising Standards Bureau logged 30 complaints.

The ad presents contact information for Healthy Communities, a recipient of local government support for sex education marketing since 1988. A Healthy Communities-spearheaded demonstration disputing the ad's ouster drew 30 protesters to Adshel's Brisbane headquarters Wednesday. A Facebook campaign signed up 30,000 supporters.

Adshel CEO Steve McCarthy said the discovery that the complaints were the result of a "coordinated ACL campaign" caused the company to revisit its decision and replace the ads.

According to Healthy Communities Executive Director Paul Martin, surveys and the quick response to the ads' removal demonstrate widespread support for gay rights. "We keep drawing attention to that evidence, but some people give undue weight to a vocal minority in the community - like people connected to ACL," said Martin.

Wendy Francis, ACL's Queensland director, said she led the campaign to oppose its sexual nature, irrespective of the homosexual context. "I think it's another loss for our children, I really do," said Francis.

Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser admonished Francis to "Check the calendar, it's 2011." "I think we should call it for what it is and this is basic homophobia," said Fraser.