Ad watchdog gets homophobic complaints about these gay ads

drama down under thorne harbour health ad standards sexual health gay men
Photo: Thorne Harbour Health

Victorian LGBTIQ+ organisation Thorne Harbour Health has hit out at homophobic complaints against its longest-running gay men’s sexual health campaign.

Since 2008, Thorne Harbour’s “The Drama Downunder” campaign has promoted STI testing and gay men’s sexual health and wellbeing.

To do so, they use models wearing white briefs to bust stigma around discussing sexual health.

Thorne Harbour Health CEO Simon Ruth said for years the campaign has run right around Australia.

However in 2021, it’s sadly still attracting homophobic complaints.

“Drama Downunder featured one model for several years as the brand was being established,” Ruth said.

“But we decided to diversify the representation in the campaign in the last couple of years. That has brought on a new wave of complaints.

“Having two men in the campaign has clearly sparked some homophobic backlash.”

Ruth said the most recent complaint raged about the “sexually explicit images of two men, suggestive, compromising and grotesque, 24/7 in full public view.”

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.”

“We do not openly promote prostitution, alcohol use & smoking and not normal sexual behaviour, but gay love is displayed like a car advert?” they wrote.

“It is utterly revolting!”

drama down under thorne harbour health ad standards sexual health gay men sti hiv

Simon Ruth said the campaign is currently running on street posters in metro Melbourne.

Ruth said Ad Standards have advised Thorne Harbour Health the campaign doesn’t breach the advertising code.

“It’s blatant homophobia and stigmatising views like these that remind us how important it is to have health promotion campaigns like this,” he said.

“Drama Downunder clearly depicts gay men and takes the shame out of having a discussion around sexual health.”

Ad watchdog dismisses complaints about gay ads

It’s not the first time Australians, in 2021, have taken the time to rage against LGBTIQ inclusion in advertising.

Earlier this month, a beautiful eHarmony ad campaign featuring a lesbian couple cooking dinner was one of the most complained-about of the year.

In 2019, Ad Standards also threw out complaints about a Bonds underwear ad featuring a real-life same-sex couple kissing.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

1 Comment

  1. Mandy
    30 July 2021

    What about all the hetro stuff we have had to watch and see in ads. Makes me sick, how could they do that with each other !
    It’s not right, grose !

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