Posted by: the watchmen | December 7, 2008

God bless you David!

Groundswell of  Support for Rev David McLveen.

PRESSURE is mounting against the Advertising Standards Authority after it banned an advert against homosexuality from a Belfast church.
Two senior lawyers have advised the church that the ruling had “gone too far” legally and a groundswell of public support has begun behind the Rev David McIlveen of Sandown Free Presbyterian Church in Belfast.

His church placed a full-page advert in the News Letter in August to highlight alleged offensive behaviour from people in the Belfast Gay Pride Parade last year and to call people to a peaceful counter protest.

The advert complained about a placard carried in the parade last year which said “Jesus is a Fag”. Mr McIlveen’s advert also quoted several biblical texts which criticise homosexual practices.

On Wednesday the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced that it had received several complaints about the advert and that it had concluded the advert breached official standards of decency. Media interest in the case came from right across the British Isles.

But yesterday Mr McIlveen said he had been inspired by the level of support he had since received.

“After Wednesday’s Press conference I had missed 24 calls on my mobile and when I got home I had to spend some time going through about 50 messages of support on my answer machine,” he said.

“Two lawyers contacted me to say the Advertising Standards Authority had gone too far and that our advert did not warrant adjudication. Both advised taking the matter to a judicial review.

“There were also people contacting me from various denominations including a Presbyterian elder and a congregational minister. And there were also messages of support from many people who didn’t leave their names.

“It has been very encouraging and much appreciated.”

A legal expert who specialises in both sexual orientation and freedom of speech said the ASA had got the balance wrong between the two issues, and that its ruling could be open to judicial review.

Dermot Feenan of the University of Ulster School of Law explained that rights to express religious views must be balanced with the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexuality.

He said the advertising code used by the advertising authority prohibits adverts likely to cause serious offence, but that the authority did not show how the offence caused by this advert was “serious” enough to warrant censorship.

“There was no evidential basis for its finding that the ad went further than the majority of its readers were likely to find acceptable,” said Mr Feeney

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