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Offensive? Federal Court to rule on explicit anti-HIV campaign

Posters from the 2014 government-backed Love Life HIV prevention campaign


Switzerland’s highest court must decide if a provocative government-backed HIV prevention campaign goes too far, now that a Christian group has filed an official appeal. 

A group of children and their parents have lodged an appeal with the Federal Court over the “Love Life” HIV prevention campaign, which they say shows “oversexualised” images that are damaging to minors. Supported by a Christian foundation, Zukunft Schweiz, the group includes 35 children aged 4-17. 

The 2014 campaign advertisements in question were shown on television, on billboards and online under the tagline “Love life – and regret nothing”. Campaign images showed heterosexual and homosexual couples both before and during sexual acts and were designed to encourage viewers to protect themselves from HIV transmission. 

The group had argued that the posters shown across Switzerland were extremely explicit and clearly designed to “arouse sexual desire”. The group of young people in question had called for proper ‘protection’ from such images. 

Last month a lower court, the Federal Administrative Court, rejected their complaint and calls for the Federal Office of Public Health to take down the advertisements immediately.  

That court ruled that the health office did not need to act, saying that the complaints were too vague and the ads were not likely to be interpreted in the way the group alleged. The group now argues that the court’s interpretation was too narrow. 

The Love Life HIV prevention campaigns have frequently led to controversy. In the past posters depicted naked ice hockey players and fencers, but also some more unusual images of sexual acts on the moon, in a cave and whilst scuba diving. with agencies

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