Still from Advert by Marriage Alliance
Still from Advert by Marriage Alliance

The group released an ad depicting a woman with a rainbow noose around her neck.

In February, the Australian anti-marriage equality group Marriage Alliance released an advertisement depicting a young woman in an office with a rainbow noose around her neck. Along with the image, the message “same-sex marriage increases PC bullying in the workplace.”

Shortly after being posted, many people responded with disdain towards the ad.

BeyondBlue, a mental health advocacy group, tweeted to the organization, “You may not have thought about it, but you may want to consider the harm that depicting someone in a noose may cause. We’re advocating strongly in this space to reduce stigma and harmful messages around suicide like this.”

Facebook moderators removed the ad after receiving multiple complaints, citing that the image violated community guidelines by “containing self-injury” “graphic violence” and “hate speech”.

Two months after the original ad was posted, the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) ruled on Monday that the group’s advertisement breached standards set in place.

The Marriage Alliance argued that the ad “fell within the grounds of what is acceptable for political advertising and should fall outside of the jurisdiction of the ASB.”

They went onto state “You will be aware that our organization is preparing for, and engaging in the preliminary stages of a political campaign concerning, inter alia, the proposed alterations to the definition of “marriage” and “family” throughout the Commonwealth. This is a highly contentious political debate that has attracted a great deal of press and commentary. Accordingly, it is our view that our communications fall under the exclusion of “political advertising” as per the information on your website. We, therefore, question the jurisdiction of the Advertising Standards Bureau in this matter but have decided to provide this response as a sign of good faith, on a without prejudice and no admissions basis, and with all rights reserved.”

The ASB noted that the image used was extreme and stated the “depiction of violence which is not justifiable in the content of the product or service advertised.” They also noted that it is standard practice “in both the print and television industries” to accompany suicide-related material with information that will assist people who may find the information concerning.

Currently, the Australian government plans to hold a plebiscite on marriage equality.