The Queensland Association for Healthy Communities is a non-profit organization that promotes sexual health among LGBT Australians. As part of their government-funded HIV prevention efforts, they’ve created a series of advertisements encouraging the use of condoms. One of these ads was recently subject to a protest by the Australian Christian Lobby, resulting in its removal from bus shelters in the Brisbane area. The ACL claims that this ad “featured two men in an act of foreplay”, and that it was “introduc[ing] sexuality to young children through forced exposure”.
This is the ad in question – it shows two fully clothed men in an embrace, hardly an “act of foreplay”. Despite receiving only 47 complaints about it, the advertising company Adshel decided to take it down. Previous advertisements promoting safe sex have featured shirtless men and women, without drawing any complaints about “introducing sexuality to young children”. The ACL, whose leader was recently forced to apologize for saying that ANZAC soldiers weren’t fighting for gays and Muslims, did not target these ads until they included two men.
Many of the complaints claim that this ad is “promoting” an “unhealthy lifestyle choice”, and several of them repeat the exact line that “The only reason for homosexual men to need condoms is because their sexual intercourse carries with it a very high risk of serious disease.” If these people think removing safe sex advertisements is the answer, I don’t think they’ve thought this all the way through. If people are unaware that they can have sex safely, it does not follow that they would stop having sex. People are going to keep having sex whether they know how to be safe or not, and leaving them in the dark about this is not going to change that. The only difference is that they won’t be doing it safely.
It’s the same mistake that makes abstinence education so useless: they believe that if they don’t tell people how to have safe sex, they won’t have sex at all. In reality, that’s not how it works. The human sex drive is not so easily erased. They’ll still be having just as much sex, but without understanding how to protect themselves – because someone decided they don’t get to know that.
This isn’t just misguided, it isn’t just homophobic, it’s anti-human. If the ACL was at all interested in mitigating the “risk of serious disease”, they would support these ads and support the use of condoms. And by the way, if you think you don’t need them just because you’re straight, you’re in for a big surprise. Opposing these ads isn’t protecting anyone, and if you’d like a more realistic approach to sexual health, then contact the ACL and politely tell them that ignorance campaigns do not work.