BHA replies to High Court judge comments on Atheist bus posters
The High Court has today ruled that Transport for London (TfL) was acting lawfully in banning the Core Issues Trust's proposed advert because it would "cause grave offence" to those who were gay. Mrs Justice Lang also mentioned in the judgment that the BHA Atheist bus posters stating ‘There's Probably No God. Stop Worrying And Enjoy Your Life‘ could also have breached TfL's equality duties.
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association which ran the Atheist Bus Campaign said, 'Everything offends someone somewhere but when an English judge is moved to deem our mild and humorous Atheist Bus Campaign as "offensive" then the law is clearly setting the bar of offence ludicrously low. The judge said that our saying there is probably no god will have offended people who believe the opposite.
That assumes that people are automatically offended by others saying things they don't believe themselves. But this isn't offence – it's disagreement – and trying to suppress it in the public sphere is inimical to the maintenance of a free society. There are good reasons to ban some adverts but offence is not one of them.'
Elaborating on what might be a good reason to ban an advert, Mr Copson said, 'A good reason is if an advert makes false claims which are dangerous to the health of the public, such as that homosexuality is a condition which can be cured or that people with life threatening diseases should pray instead of taking medicine – both claims that have been made in adverts which have been banned.'
For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at email@example.com or on 0773 843 5059.
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.