One of the adverts on the side of a Blackpool bus (Photo: @OmarKuddus | Twitter)
Blackpool Transport, which operates buses in the Northern England coastal town, has withdrawn adverts for the upcoming Festival of Hope.
The evangelical festival is due to take place 21-23 September at Blackpool’s famous Winter Gardens. The special guest will be Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham.
However, local LGBTI people were horrified to see adverts for the festival appear on the side of buses. They made their views clear on social media. An LGBTI hotspot in the northwest of England, Blackpool has a thriving gay scene.
‘As a member of the LGBT community I am really disgusted by the adverts,’ commented Kellan Martin on Blackpool Transport’s Facebook page.
Why is #BlackpoolTransport supporting a #homophobic event in #Blackpool @BPL_Transport?
Does #money come before #ethics?
Do not the thousands of local #LGBTQ residents that use you regularly matter to you? pic.twitter.com/ucVD8V04fg
— Omar Kuddus (@OmarKuddus) July 9, 2018
‘Why is #BlackpoolTransport supporting a #homophobic event in #Blackpool?’ asked Omar Kuddus on Twitter. ‘Does #money come before #ethics?’
Franklin Graham has consistently spoken out against LGBTI rights and same-sex marriage. In 2015, he praised Russia for the introduction of its anti-gay propaganda law. In 2016, he called for a boycott of Girl Scouts cookies in protest at the organization’s support of ‘transgender rights and homosexuality’.
‘Blackpool Transport is a proud ongoing supporter of the Pride’
Today, the transport company apologized and said it was pulling the adverts.
‘Blackpool Transport has recently been made aware of an advert in place on the side of some of our double-decker buses,’ it said in a statement.
‘In light of customer feedback and reactions on social media which has resulted in heightened tension, we have taken the decision to remove all adverts relating to the ‘Festival of Hope’ event with immediate effect. We will reimburse any income back to the advertising company.
‘We work with multiple advertisers and third-parties and in no way do we endorse or support any advertisement which is placed on our vehicles.
Jane Cole, Managing Director at Blackpool Transport said, ‘The removal of these adverts is as a result of us listening and acting on customer and public feedback which we aim to do at all times. Blackpool Transport is a proud ongoing supporter of the Pride and LGBT+ communities and in no way did we intend to cause any distress or upset.’
The company says buses bearing the advert will remain out of service until the posters are removed.
GSN has contacted Festival of Hope for comment.