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Cabinet defends controversial sexual campaign

The LOVE LIFE campaign has been running since mid May Keystone

The Swiss government says that its LOVE LIFE information campaign against HIV is a success and has rejected allegations – particularly from conservative politicians – that the posters are too sexually explicit or even pornographic.

In the first month after its launch in May, 86,000 people signed the campaign manifesto and the accompanying video received 550,000 hits on YouTube, the cabinet said in a series of responses to questions from  parliamentarians published on Thursday. After a casting call, more than 250 people volunteered to appear on the campaign billboards. Five couples were eventually chosen.

Ministers added that the publicity projectExternal link, which runs under the motto “love life – no regrets”, showcased people expressing their sexuality in a responsible manner. In order for preventive measures to be effective it was important to refer to sexuality as it exists in day-to-day life, they insisted.

They did not think that the campaign had anything to do with pornography, as the visual elements were completely different. Pornography does not include an emphasis on responsible behaviour, the ministers wrote, and is therefore at odds with the central message of the campaign: namely to make your own choices in sexual matters and take responsibility for them.

Socially acceptable

However, the cabinet conceded that not everyone would agree with the posters, but it was convinced that the project “did not exceed the boundaries of what was socially acceptable”.

Nor did experts feel that children were unduly harmed by the campaign, added the cabinet. “If children ask questions because of the campaign, it offers an opportunity for these questions to be addressed in a way that is suitable for their age,” it wrote.

Some parliamentarians, mostly from the centre-right or rightwing parties, had called for the taxpayer-funded campaign to be stopped, arguing that it harmed the efforts of parents and teachers to teach morals to children. Others had argued that the imagery was “potentially dangerous” for young people and a bad influence.

The LOVE LIFE campaign has aimed to put out a preventative message about protection against HIV through positive, passionate images rather than fear about infection.

One part of the campaign is a video posted on YouTube, set to Edith Piaf’s famous song, Non, je ne regrette rien, (I regret nothing). It features individuals in erotic poses and a wide range of real-life couples showing off their passion for each other. A shorter version has been aired as a television advertisement shown after 8pm.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR