The highest court in Switzerland has rejected a complaint by a group of Christian parents against a government-backed sexual health campaign.
The Federal Court said that the controversial “Love Life” HIV prevention campaign, which was launched in 2014, was not pornographic and did not overexpose children to sexualised content.
The parents had filed a complaint to the court on behalf of 35 children and young people, aged between four and 17 years. They were backed by various Christian organisations in Switzerland.
They had taken issue with some of the TV advertisement videos which featured individuals in erotic poses and a wide range of real-life couples showing physical affection. The parents said that the campaign had a harmful effect on children’s development because they would not be able to classify or process the sexually charged messages.
The complainants invoked Article 11 of the Swiss Federal Constitution, which grants children and young people the right to special protection.
But the apex court rejected their complaint, arguing that the scenes did not expose children to stronger sexual influences than they are confronted with in their daily lives.
The judge found that while the campaign showed couples in intimate situations kissing and laughing, the images did not contain images of genitalia. Hence children did not need to be protected from the content.
The Lausanne-based court also stated that with the correct education and guidance by their parents, children would be able to categorise and interpret the images correctly. In view of sexualised representations in the public space, it was crucial that they were taught how to do this anyway.
Further action possible
The decision confirms an earlier ruling by the Federal Administrative Court.
In a press release by the Christian Foundation Future Switzerland, the complainants and their parents said that they were very disappointed by the decision.
The court had missed an opportunity to set clear boundaries about government prevention campaigns, they said. The complainants therefore considered referring the matter to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The health office invests some CHF2 million ($2 million) every year into its “Love Life” HIV prevention campaign.