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.....2 Profile..... The Woman Behind Sex In Advertising

.............................The woman behind the campaign against the gay safe sex ad.....

............Make of her what you will..................

She's the Brisbane mother-of-three who's been in the middle of a media storm over condom advertising in Brisbane bus shelters this week.

And she admits that if she knew how the issue was going to flare up she might have thought twice about questioning why a Brisbane bus shelter - outside her church in Upper Edward Street - should feature an advertisement encouraging a gay couple to use a condom.

This safe sex advertisement has been pulled from Brisbane bus shelters after the Australian Christian Lobby complained it was offensive.

The safe sex advertisement at the centre of the media storm this week.

Wendy Francis is the Queensland director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and has shot to notoriety this week, with thousands of Australians labelling her homophobic.

Her bid to have the condom ads removed was originally successful, but after a public outcry, they were reinstated.

The comments created a whirlpool of debate about advertising, which Ms Francis said has been both positive and negative.

Protesters gather outside Adshel’s Fortitude Valley headquarters.

Protesters gather outside Adshel’s Fortitude Valley headquarters this week before the ad was reinstated. Photo: Katherine Feeney

"I am not sure that I feel that I have been successful, but I think I have been true to myself," she says.

"I have been true to what I truly believe and it won't stop me complaining the next time an ad goes up and that will be whether it is gay or straight."

Who is Wendy Francis?
Ms Francis is married to Peter Francis, the senior pastor of the City Tabernacle Baptist Church in Brisbane.

Michael O'Brien, right, and his partner star in the ad.

Michael O'Brien, right, and his partner who star in the ad.

They have three, now-adult children and a number of grandchildren.

She's been the organiser of the Lord Mayor's Christmas Carols for several years.

Wendy joined the Australian Christian Lobby in January this year, and before that dipped her toes into the political waters by running as the number one Senate candidate for Family First in Queensland.

Her political career was perhaps best known for controversial comments on Twitter comparing gay marriage to 'legalising child abuse'.

However, she maintains that she's not homophobic, and says this week's efforts were part of a long-standing campaign to remove sexual ads of all persuasions from the public sphere.

"I started a Facebook page in March 2010 and it simply said "Outdoor Advertising Should Be G-rated," she says.

"And it is still up. And thousands of people joined up. So I thought, 'No', I am not alone, we're on to something."

In the beginning were condoms
Condom advertising - not condom use - was her first target.

"The first ad I complained about was a condom ad. It was an ad for The World's Thinnest Condom," Ms Francis says.

"In Brisbane they were not as offensive as they were in some of the other capital cities, but the huge words, 'world's thinnest condom', made my grandchildren ask what a condom was.

"I just thought, 'We are crazy. Our children from six years of age - who can start to read - will be sex-saturated in the culture we are developing."

Ms Francis said much of the sexualised advertising around is directed at young women, something else she objects to.

After condoms, she complained about the original 'Longer Lasting Sex' billboards about erection difficulties and then Vampire Diaries bus shelter ads outside a Brisbane school where two male vampires bit into the neck of a young girl.

Both times she won.

This week she wanted to again remove what she saw as sexualised advertising.

"My only thought was to remove an ad that was again speaking about sex and condoms. And this time it was bus shelters and billboards," she says.

It is fine for adults, Ms Francis says. But not for children.

"When a child is free to be in that space, I don't believe that advertising about sex, or condoms or any other sexual thing is appropriate for their "time slot", or where they are."

'One of the most open-minded'
Wendy Francis maintains she would have made the same objection if the bus shelter poster featured a heterosexual couple.

"I think it is wrong for me to not touch something because it is gay. I think that is totally wrong," she says.

She volunteers her hair stylist, Jac Vaessen, from Agapi Hair and Beauty at Spring Hill, as someone who will back up her claims, which he does.

"I went on to the (Wendy Francis is homophobe) website and said I am actually Wendy's hair stylist and I can let you know that if she was homophobic she definitely would not be coming to me," Mr Vaessen says.

"I have known her for about seven years and we have great conversations about things. I am also a gay dad. I have a child with a gay girlfriend of mine.

"We talk about these all things and she would be one of the most open-minded people that I know.

"She and her husband - who is the pastor at the big Baptist church on Wickham Terrace - I mean they really are quite amazing people."

When should children learn about sex?
Wendy Francis believes 12 or 13 is now too old for parents to begin talking their children about sex.

It should be earlier.

"I talked to my children very naturally about sex from a very young age. Each time they asked a question I answered them very honestly," she says.

But she is adamant it is a decision that should be left to parents, not companies.

"I think parents still should have the right to choose when their child is ready to be spoken to about safe sex."

She is seeking set guidelines for outdoor advertising.

"Television has managed to work out what it believes is a successful G-rated classification, so I would be very happy to follow the television model."

"So when children come home from school, there are children's programs on and a condom ad - for example - would not be appropriate.

"They would not show some of the ads that they show after 7.30pm at night – whatever time the classification sets – a condom ad, would not be successful.

"There is a time when a tampon ad is acceptable, for example."

.......I withhold comment.........

Shabbat Shalom

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