Thorne Harbour Health Centre is a Victorian-based organisation that caters to the LGBTQIA+ community. Their long-running campaign The Drama Downunder aims to de-stigmatise gay men’s sexual health, encourage STI testing and open discussions among the community.
The Drama Downunder campaign has run since 2008 and had previously featured one model for years; the campaign recently updated to feature more diversity in their ads and this has sparked backlash from the public, reports Q News.
The campaign features on street posters in the Melbourne metro area. The complaints against Thorne Harbour allege that the posters feature “graphic depictions” that aren’t suitable to be made public..
Thorne Harbour CEO, Simon Ruth says, “Having two men in the campaign has clearly sparked some homophobic backlash. They complained the ads give [no] consideration of who sees these images and how they might impact children, religious persons, conservative people, foreigners and many more,'” says Ruth.
Unfortunately, complaints against inclusive LGBTQIA+ ads are not uncommon; a report from NBC News states that when eHarmony launched their Real Love campaign with an add titled I Scream featuring a lesbian couple, the company was harangued by conservative groups that reportedly called the commercial an “attempt to normalise and glorify the LGBTQIA+ lifestyle”.
According to the BBC, in 2018 when international men’s tailoring brand Suitsupply released their spring/summer campaign that featured two men kissing, the company lost an alleged 10,000 followers.
According to Simon Ruth, Thorne Harbour receiving complaints about a campaign that, according to Ad Standards, doesn’t breach the advertising code is part of the reason why The Drama Downunder is so important. “It’s blatant homophobia and stigmatising views like these that remind us how important it is to have health promotion campaigns like this,” says Ruth.