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Court rules explicit anti-HIV campaign was permissible

The Federal Office of Public Heath does not have to address a complaint from a Christian group concerning a provocative HIV prevention ad campaign, a court has decided. 

A group of 35 children aged 4 to 17 years filed a complaint with the health office over advertisements showing sexual acts that the group felt were damaging to minors and suggested sexual violence. In June 2014, the children and their parents, supported by a Christian foundation, demanded that the advertisements be taken down immediately. 

After the health office did not act on the request, the group took the matter to Switzerland’s top administrative court. That court ruled on Friday 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 had also argued that the ads conveyed the message that young people would regret not yielding to their sexual appetite at any time and place and that they try to convey a standard type of sexual behaviour. 

The 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. 

The advertisements in question were shown on television, on billboards and online under the tagline “Love life – and regret nothing”. Images of sexual acts used in the campaign were meant to encourage viewers to protect themselves from HIV transmission.

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