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Hands of gay couple in billboard defaced, hashtag campaign started to ‘paint their hands back’

Hands of gay couple in billboard defaced, hashtag campaign started to ‘paint their hands back’

It has been hailed by many as ‘the boldest LGBT ad in the country so far’, the Southeast Asian country of the Philippines is home to the third-largest Catholic population in the world.

The ads by a local clothing brand Bench showing a male couple holding hands in one of four separate billboards is, however, deemed ‘too gay’ by some including the Ad Standards Council (ASC), according to Bench Advertising and Promotions Manager Jojo Liamzon who was quoted as saying in Style Bible.

Barely two days after the billboards along the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) freeway in Guadalupe, Makati City was erected on Wednesday, the ad featuring real life gay couple magazine creative director Vince Uy and boyfriend Nino Gaddi holding hands was found to have been defaced with their hands painted over in black.

The ‘Love All Kinds of Love’ ad campaign also features a lesbian (makeup artist Ana Paredes and girlfriend, interior designer Carla Peña), heterosexual (model and Survivor Philippines castaway Solenn Heussaff and fiancé Nico Bolzico) and grandmother-grandson pair (actress Gloria and grandson Chris Gutierrez).

Uy posted on Instagram on Friday after news broke about the billboard being defaced saying: ‘This day was intense but at the end of it, we are grateful. Grateful to @benchtm for being brave in doing this campaign. Grateful to our family and friends for their support. Grateful to the many strangers who have taken time to "improve" our billboard. Lastly, grateful that we have each other. Whatever your opinion on our billboard, we wish you a life full of love. We all deserve it.’

Word is going around within the LGBTI community in Manila that it was the the Ad Standards Council who had ordered the billboard to be defaced so as ‘not to irk the wider public,’ activist Dindi Tan told Gay Star News on Saturday.

The ASC has said in a media report that it did not order the painting over of the billboards.

Executive Director Mila Marquez said that particular series was not blurred by ASC but by the company.

‘We were surprised they blurred it… Possibly because they think they will be given approval if they do that.’

She added, ‘We had discussion with them particularly because they put up the billboards without clearance to display. If at all, they were given approval to produce it.’

Tan told GSN that the billboards are located along a busy thoroughfare directly facing the Guadalupe river and are monitored by security guards which makes it very difficult for unauthorised persons to access the billboards without being detected.

‘I find the Council’s remarks [about the ad being "too gay"] insensitive and disrespectful of the couple who modeled in that ad campaign,’ said Tan.

‘Why the reaction when there are several LGBT people in the Advertising Board of the Philippines (AdBoard) [an umbrella organization of the advertising industry]? It puts to question whether or not the LGBTs in AdBoard even defended the billboard and its message before the ASC,’ she told GSN.

Additionally, the ‘aesthetic integrity’ was ‘challenged by tampering,’ Tan said. ‘Censoring it and eventually tampering with the ad obviates the real message that the ad seeks to convey.’

A hashtag campaign has been started by illustrator and comics artist Rob Cham to protest the defacement. On Friday, Cham put mickey mouse gloves on the couple and encouraged people to #”ŽPaintTheirHandsBack”¬