A Father’s Day ad has been yanked off the air in Australia, prompting confusion and outrage.
According to Yahoo, the commercial, made by a Christian organization called Dads4Kids, was allegedly pulled because it “likely contained political matter.”
The Dads4Kids organization airs a community service announcement every year for Father’s Day, but this year the holiday comes as Australia prepares for a national survey on the matter of same-sex marriage.
Ben Pratt, a spokesman for Dads4Kids said, “these television commercials are simply a gentle encouragement to Australian dads, and an affirmation that they are an important figure in the lives of their children.”
“The adverts have been enthusiastically accepted and many TV stations play them all year long as a community service. They are always released in the lead up to Father’s Day. Unfortunately what is a simple Father’s Day message has now become a ‘political’ statement.”
“It is extraordinary that this is where we have come to as a country; we can no longer celebrate Father’s Day without being forced to look at it through the lens of the same-sex marriage debate,” he continued.
“It’s a tragedy that a political motive is now implied in any mention of fatherhood. Not everything is about same-sex marriage.”
Free TV Australia – the group that regulates licensing on public TV down under – said it pulled the ad on advice from their lawyers and responded with a statement of its own.
“The advertiser was requested, but declined, to add an identification tag to the commercial to comply with Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act,” the group is quoted as stating by News.com.au.
“The Broadcasting Services Act requires broadcasters to ensure [that] commercials that contain ‘political matter’ identify the body responsible for the commercial, including the speakers in the commercial.
“Political matter is defined as ‘any matter that appears to comment on, encourage participation in or attempt to influence a certain outcome within a political process.'”
“Recent decisions of the [Australian Communications and Media Authority] require broadcasters to consider the content of websites referred to in the commercial when deciding whether a commercial contains political matter.”
Dads4Kids, which in the past has lobbied against pro-LGBT legislation, said it has limited funds and could not afford to re-cut a version of the ad with the necessary identification tag and thus the ad was pulled.
Politicians of all stripes have criticized the move. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Liberal MP Tim Wilson both spoke out against it.
Liberal MP Michael Sukkar wrote on Facebook, “This Father’s Day ad has been stopped from airing on TV because it’s too ‘political’. It’s a scary world where the role of a father can be outlawed. What next?”
Nationals MP George Christensen said the ad had “fallen victim to the suppression of free speech that goes along with changing the definition of marriage.”