Why Ad Standards won't look at the Australian Marriage Forum ad

Recently the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) has received a large number of complaints about an advertisement from the Australian Marriage Forum.

ASB has decided not to bring this to the Board for adjudication as this advertisement falls under the scope of political advertising, and does not fall within the scope of the AANA Code of Ethics.

Adjudicating on complaints about political advertising could be regarded as unduly restricting the implied constitutional freedom of political communication or interfering with the political process.

The advertising self-regulation system was established as an industry initiative with the objective of regulating commercial communications, not advertisements containing political claims aimed at influencing the political process.

In our view, it is not possible to make decisions about whether a political advertisement breaches the Code without the potential for being seen to be taking a political viewpoint.

It is important to the Board’s integrity that it is seen as an impartial adjudicator free from perceptions of political bias.

Opening up the system to political advertising could invite spurious claims and nuisance complaints that may cause disruption to the normal political process and an inappropriate drain on limited industry resources.

23 comment

  • Paul Lennet - 1 April 2015 - 5:00pm

    In reply to Ian Jordan (10 March 2015):
    There is no sensible connection on same sex and marriage!
    Marriage is a covenant between a man and and a woman and
    the GOD Almighty Himself as the witness being the one who
    instituted marriage in the first place! Period.

  • melanie - 17 March 2015 - 2:04pm

    Channel 9 has dropped the ad and refused to deal with AMF moving forward.
    Hope the other networks follow suit.

  • Lance - 16 March 2015 - 11:34pm

    In Queensland, a political ad must have the name & address of the person endorsing said political advertising. This has applied for the Not 4 Sale campaign & major political campaigns by LNP, Greens, ALP & PUP parties.

    So it fails on that front to even conform to political advertising.

    Is AustraliaMarriage.org / Family Council of Queensland a charity?

    No. It doesn't turn up on ACNC registers & has been receiving Liberal specific donations for at least 8 years:

    So it's aim is to commercially sell a product. That product is conservative religious values, and as such, as the ad is misleading, it should fall under ASB guidelines for false & misleading advertising.

  • james - 16 March 2015 - 6:55am

    Good to hear. Australia should have the space to consider ALL aspects of the discussion on gay marriage not the one sided debate we've had so far where we have to accept the gay lobby's views or be attacked with claims of homophobia.

  • Kristina Harrison - 14 March 2015 - 11:10am

    In response to Kerry Roberts (12 March 2015)
    Replace "gay/lesbian/homosexual" with "Muslim and Christianity" and see if it STILL makes sense to you. See if you STILL see it as "free speech" (which it's totally not! It was a calculated attack planned for Mardi Gras, and this group was begging for money in order to do it -- which is PROOF it was NOT part of a 'political campaign'!) and not hatespeech.

    If the ad said "Think about the Christian children missing out on Islam", do you HONESTLY think that ad would've been allowed to air and defended by everyone?

  • Kristina Harrison - 14 March 2015 - 11:05am

    In response to Jordan Kerr (11 March 2015)
    Well said, Jordan!

  • Kristina Harrison - 14 March 2015 - 11:05am

    In response to Aaren Drunis (11 March 2015)
    I completely agree with you!

  • Michael Narciso - 13 March 2015 - 7:38am

    This is very disappointing.

    By indicating that an advertisement has a political leaning, are you implying that any organisation can target a particular minority in the Australian population? Are you implying that, by swapping "homosexual couples" with Aboriginal, Jewish, Muslim or Middle Eastern couples, the ad will still pass as a political ad?

    Perhaps it is time ASB challenges its own thinking, and become accountable for its decisions. You can be better than this.

  • Justin - 13 March 2015 - 1:35am

    i must also complain, as a person who grew up without a father I find this advertisement highly offensive! To suggest that it is wrong to bring up children in any environment other than a man and woman is a clear insult to single parents (gay, straight or otherwise) and same sex couples! What is the difference between this and suggesting the woman's place is in the home, or indigenous Australians wanting to live on their land is a lifestyle choice... Oh wait, isn't this exactly what the current prime minister believes? You should seriously think about learning about ethics (you know - basically right and wrong) , I know you are only the "ad standards board" and not the ethical advertising standards board, but we are in the 21st century (and have been for a while now) so you should think about joining the rest of us!

  • Adam Giles - 12 March 2015 - 6:56pm

    Are you kidding me? You have a job to do, to encourage and enforce STANDARDS! If the couples were replaced with interracial couples this would NOT be acceptable. You would instantly know this UNACCEPTABLE in this day and age, this is NOT a political advert and the cheek that you would use that line to avoid doing your duty and core responsibility show and core lack of integrity, decency and diversity!If an advert were to be about getting women OUT of the workforce and back into the kitchen, I am sure your CEO would have a mildly more confident delivery in her speach. SHAME adstandards, you have egg on your faces! WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY!

  • Kerry Roberts - 12 March 2015 - 5:50pm

    As I watch very little television, I missed the Marriage Forum advertisement, but GOOD ON THEM, for presenting another view in our democratic society, on a subject which has been hijacked by the gay lobby, which uses highly emotive language ("hate speech") against the least anti-gay viewpoint. Nothing to do with hate, LGBT people, using our right to free speech, and the right to disagree publicly with a small but vocal minority.

  • Darren - 11 March 2015 - 6:21pm

    If this is the case then I will make my own commercial shaming Kiddy Fiddling Priests under the guise of political freedom, then I a sure the church will have no avenue to complain either.. Yeah I didn't think so This is a total disgrace And since when was church and state allowed to mix. If they want to have a political opinion then perhaps they should pay tax.

  • melanie - 11 March 2015 - 2:06pm

    Let's ignore the fact that this ad is offensive.
    It is actually really misleading and incorrect.
    The premise of the advertisement is that marriage equality should not be legal because children should have a mother and a father.
    But these are two completely different situations. marriage and having kids are not mutually exclusive.
    They should be forced to take the ad off air for making such a suggestion.

  • Kristina Harrison - 11 March 2015 - 1:27pm

    So, even though it blatantly goes against the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice (1.9.6 - A licensee may not broadcast a program, program promotion, station identification or community service announcement which is likely, in all the circumstances, to:
    provoke or perpetuate intense dislike, serious contempt or severe ridicule against a person or group of persons on the grounds of age, colour, gender, national or ethnic origin, disability, race, religion or sexual preference;), you're not going to investigate it at all because it's a "political campaign"?

    This "Family Doctor" David van Gend - who is actually the president of the Australian Marriage Forum and not a doctor at all - has the right to sell homophobic hatespeech and have it promoted in prime time viewing under the insane pretense of being part of a 'political campaign' and you find absolutely nothing wrong with that?

    So, basically, I could make an ad alienating an entire sect (Aboriginals, Muslims, Christians, whoever) and it would be completely okay...as long as it's part of a political campaign? Please tell me how that makes sense in any way.

    (Let it be known that I have love for all people and was only listing the above mentioned groups to prove my point)

  • Jordan Kerr - 11 March 2015 - 12:28pm

    The ad will run out of money and most reasonable people will see for the hate-speech it is. Can you imagine if the parents were aboriginal? And someone was making a claim they weren't fit parents? Or if they were Muslim? I have no doubt this wouldn't be considered political.

    I think some of the biggest damage is going to be done to Ad Standards as an organisation and the faith the community has now lost in the body.

    It's own Code includes...

    2.1 Advertising or Marketing Communications shall not portray people or depict material in a way which discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual preference, religion, disability, mental illness or political belief.

    If this ad doesn't fall within that category, then nothing does. The coverage Ad Standards has gotten over this is damaging their reputation significantly.

  • Aaren Drunis - 11 March 2015 - 11:38am

    This is just disgusting. Are the AMF a political party? NO!

    Then why is ad standards politicising the issue by bringing politics into the equation? It is not a political issue, it is an issue of discrimination and rights.

    Ads standards are essentially siding with the AFM in making this statement, that is politicising an issue!

  • Jude McAuley - 10 March 2015 - 11:56pm

    "In our view, it is not possible to make decisions about whether a political advertisement breaches the Code without the potential for being seen to be taking a political viewpoint."

    By NOT making a decision you're pretty much doing the same thing.

    I work in advertising and I know the amount of hoops we have to jump through to prove everything tiny claim made, and yet you let this offensive rubbish through. All true and correct is it? No disclaimers required? It's sad, guys. You're supposed to be protecting viewers from horrible crap like this.

  • Nikki - 10 March 2015 - 11:29pm

    I cant believe you wont look at the add. it is out right homophobic, and hate filled, singling out certain people.

    Not only is it against gay marriage, it is also against single parents, families where the parents cant raise the children themselves (deaths sickness ect) and against anything not seen as a good christian family.

    This isn't political in any way, it is pure hate. it is like you are happily allowing Australia to return to the 40's in america. What next, gay people have to sit at the back of the bus?

    get it together ABS

  • Theresa ramsay - 10 March 2015 - 10:59pm

    Are you kidding ......the ad is offensive on so many levels and needs to be re assessed

  • Sarah Ellmer - 10 March 2015 - 10:23pm

    Thanks for that. But I complained anyway.

  • Abby morgan - 10 March 2015 - 7:57pm

    Ford ad...where the guy says that when you get your car serviced with Ford you get a replacement car...you don't get that elsewhere......well that's bull****....I've got a Subaru and every time I get my car serviced with them I can a replacement car....

  • Ian Jordan - 10 March 2015 - 5:50pm

    You have got to be kidding me,this is is a blatant attack on same sex couples and single parents everywhere, they are inferring that we are somehow inferior in raising children.

    Love has no boundary, no limits, it does not choose,its a gift that can be applied by anyone to anyone.

    This add is totally false, done by people full of hate.

    If its an add on television and its not linked or aimed at or by a political party then my dear fellow Australians you have an obligation to adjudicate on what I and many others find offensive.

    I as a tax payer and loyal Australian expect no less from you, show some consistency, if something is hurtful and untrue then it is, no matter how it is packaged.

    Ian Jordan

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