In the latest round of a raging controversy pitting Britain's tiny Gay Police Association against Scotland Yard, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Advertising Standards Authority, many of the nation's Christians, and their own bosses, the gay bobbies are standing by their billy clubs, refusing to apologize for their sensational public service announcement condemning anti-gay violence.
The ad, which ran in a special "Diversity" section of the small lefty paper, "The Independent" on June 29 stunned merry old England. Under the headline "In the name of the father," the ad featured a puddle of bright red blood next to a copy of the Bible and was followed by text that included these facts: "In the last 12 months, the GPA has recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator."
The impact was immediate, turning the one-time message into the shot heard 'round the world. Some 50,000 protests poured in from the Christian community, accusing the cocky cops of "faith crimes" and inspiring hatred and even violence against the Church of England. "The Independent" issued an abject apology. Scotland Yard launched an investigation into the gay group for "Christianophobia." The UK's Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police opened their own file against the GPA on potential charges of discrimination.
The media, of course, had a field day. The furor focused on the ad's apparent claim that Christianity was the cause of violence against gays. Many Christians were not about to turn the other cheek at this perceived outrage, especially with the memory of the Islamist-inspired London subway bombings still raw.
The GPA responded that while many homophobic assaults are indeed linked to Muslims, in Britain the majority are committed by young men who justify their hate in Christian scripture.
Last month the criminal investigations of the gay police officers were dropped because of "insufficient evidence." But on October 17 the Advertising Standards Authority panned the ad as factually inaccurate and banned the bobbies from ever running it again. "The leading implication‘that Christians were the perpetrators of the reported incidents‘[is inaccurate and]‘likely to cause offence to those readers who were Christian," the ruling said.
The GPA says it will appeal the ad watchdog's ruling. "We don't see any reason to apologize for an advertisement that was merely stating the facts," said GPA spokesman Vic Codling. Meanwhile, Codling and other GPA honchos still face possible disciplinary action by their own department. And, Codling adds, they are still fielding death threats and other homophobic e-mails from self-proclaimed defenders of the faith.