Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!” So ran the advert by the Core Issues Trust, which claims to be able to help people overcome their homosexuality — perhaps by locking them in a room with an endless cycle of Top Gear.
The Christian charity had placed the ads on London buses in response to Stonewall’s campaign, “Some people are gay, get over it.” Boris Johnson had banned them for being “offensive to gays”. Yesterday, however, the group won a ruling in the High Court.
Can such ex-gay therapy work? Almost certainly not. But should authorities be banning adverts simply because they offend? Even those who disagree with biblical orthodoxies should be concerned. People with unpopular views about sexuality face increasing restrictions. A Dundee street preacher was arrested last month. It doesn’t help that many traditionalists seem relics of a bygone age, choosing to tramp the streets of Tayside discussing the sins of Sodom.
The past half-century has seen a social revolution akin to the Protestant Reformation, in which previously accepted orthodoxies have become heresy within a generation, and homophobes are the new Catholics. And when something becomes unspeakable, it is easy to push it out of the public sphere or even criminalise it, especially when politics acts as a replacement communion of belief. If, as many believe, traditional views on homosexuality are more hateful than misguided, why shouldn’t those who express such things be suspended from their jobs or arrested?