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'Gay' Jesus billboard deemed not offensive

Published: 10:20AM Tuesday February 05, 2013 Source: Fairfax

A complaint about an Auckland church billboard questioning whether Jesus was gay has been dismissed on the grounds it wasn't offensive.

The St Matthew-in-the-City billboard featured an image of baby Jesus in a manger with a rainbow coloured halo and the words: "It's Christmas. Time for Jesus to come out."

The complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority said the representation of Jesus was "akin to hate speech".

However, a decision released yesterday found the billboard's speculation about Jesus' sexual orientation did not breach advertising codes.

It was "prepared by a Christian church to promote debate within the Christian faith, as opposed to a deliberately offensive advertisement by an outside party for commercial gain, had been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility", the decision reads.

St Matthew-in-the-City has frequently found itself in hot water with its Christmas and Easter billboards.

In 2011, the authority dismissed a similar complaint made about a billboard that featured the heads of two people in bed - Joseph and Mary - with the text reading: "Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow."

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