NZ Herald 13 April 2013
Watchdog cites free speech for rejecting complaint against anti-gay marriage pamphlet.
A complaint about an anti-gay marriage brochure, criticised as being “extraordinarily offensive”, has been dismissed by the country’s advertising watchdog on the grounds of freedom of speech. Family First’s “21 great reasons to keep marriage as is” pamphlet equates same-sex marriage with incest and paedophilia, denigrates children of same-sex couples and is hurtful to single-parent families, the Advertising Standards Authority heard. The complainant said the brochure was “inflammatory, largely incorrect and was filled with biases”. It was “extraordinarily offensive”. However the authority, quoting parts of the code of ethics, has ruled that the complaint against the brochure should be dismissed because of the importance of free speech. While the authority said there were “sincere concerns of … offence caused by the brochure”, the allowance for “robust expression of belief or opinion, irrespective of the message”, meant the pamphlet was allowed. “Accordingly, the [authority] chairman said that there was no apparent breach of the Advertising Codes and therefore no grounds for the complaint to proceed,” the authority said in its decision.