BY PIERS MCGRANDIF
AN EVANGELICAL Christian has enlisted Roman Catholic support in an attempt to ban lurid posters from the streets.
Mr Ferris Lindsay, a teacher and father of five, claims that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is "totally ineffectual" in clamping down on a rash of increasingly sexually explicit hoardings, many of which are situated close to schools and nurseries.
He has written to the Bishops' Conference, and various parish priests, for support.
"The hoardings are not a matter of choice. You can turn the television off, or refuse to buy magazines, but how can you protect children from such sights?"
"The response from the ASA is always the same: they say that it is very difficult to adjudicate because what seems outrageous to one person is perfectly normal to another". Mr Lindsay set up the Londonbased Cedar Education Centre in 1991, a small organisation concerned with the education of children.
He claims that manyof the adverts would not have appeared on the streets even five years ago.
The latest furore over lurid posters follows myriad complaints against a number of teenage magazines, including Sugar, Mizz, and More! over the publication of explicit sexual advice to teenagers. However, the Government this week opposed Tory MP Peter Luff's attempt to force publishers to carry age warnings on such magazines, claiming that it would be impossible to police age restrictions. It was also felt by publishers and some MPs said the Bill could tempt youngsters to read magazines in a higher age range.
Mr Luff, parliamentary private secretary to the Lord Chancellor, put forward the measure after being shocked at the contents of his 10year-old daughter's magazine. He told MPs that the letters pages often degenerated into "squalid titillation, salaciousness and smut".
Meanwhile Ferris Lindsay, who has received widespread support from worried parents for his campaign, is hoping to force the ASA to adopt several different codes, including the need to investigate whether a prima facie case exists against adverts with a sexual content, a duty to refer advertisers who disregard the code to the police (under public decency laws), and the removal of images with a sexual content from hoardings or bus shelters.
As things stand, the advertising industry is only held in check by the ASA, the only body with responsibility to regulate.
But many believe that the advertising industry blatantly disregards the admonitions of such regulatory bodies.
Mr Lindsay has cited various posters for his case. One shows the breasts of pop singer Janet Jackson being clasped from behind by an anonymous man.
Another advert, promoting last year's film Disclosure, featured a woman wearing a short black dress who was kissing, and embracing with her arms and legs, a man pressed against the wall.
The film was subtitled "Sex is power". However, the complainants objected that the posters were offensive. Another complaint was made against an advertising mural which had been on the outside of the old Daily Mirror buildings in London for over a year.
"The advertisers obviously feel that it is appropriate for children to see this image of a naked man and woman involved in foreplay leading up to intercourse a they pass by on outings and on buses", said Mr Lindsay.