The couple who featured in a HIV awareness ad campaign, Michael O'Brien and partner, which was removed by billboard conpany Adshell after complaints form the Australian Christian Lobby. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied
Supporters of an advertisement aimed at promoting awareness of HIV in same-sex couples are outraged after it was pulled from Queensland bus shelters. The Queensland Association for healthy Communities learned its “Rip and Roll” advertisements were being scrapped after about 30 complaints yesterday.
Healthy Communities says the company that provides advertising for Brisbane’s bus shelters, Adshel Goa Billboards, and the Advertising Standards Bureau were targeted in an orchestrated campaign by the Australian Christian Lobby Group. The ad shows a fully clothed, hugging gay couple holding an unopened condom packet and includes the website address and hotline for Healthy Communities.
Michael O’Brien is one of the two men in the picture, along with his life partner who asked not to be named.
After the ads were pulled, he started a Facebook page protesting the decision which, by 1pm, had gathered more than 18,000 followers. On Twitter, #adshel was the top-trending hashtag at 1pm.
He told news.com.au he was heartened by the response. “I was in tears last night,” he said. “I was surprised we had tipped 500 and now we’re well over 10,000. It’s gone viral so quickly.”
Mr O’Brien said he had been overwhelmed by messages of support from the community.
“We’ve been approached by printing companies who are prepared to print up copies of the ads for free and put them everywhere,” he said. “And a little local advertiser rang us to say she was outraged and would be cancelling her ads (with Adshel). I think that if we don’t hear back, people are preparing to protest outside Adshel’s offices today.”
In a response published on Adshel's website this morning the company stated it had:
"responded to a series of individual complaints to the Adshel Office, Brisbane City Council and the Advertising Standards Bureau. All complaints were made by individual members of the public; and, none were identified as stemming from the Australian Christian Lobby."