Focus on the Family this week won the right to post exgay ads on Tampa Bay, Fla.-area bus shelters, according to

Gay activist/author Wayne Besen responded with a press release this afternoon:


This Is The Equivalent Of Allowing Cigarette Companies To Advertise to Youth, Said Author Wayne Besen

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Author Wayne Besen today criticized an out of court settlement in the Tampa-area allowing divisive hate group Focus on the Family to advertise their ex-gay hoax. The settlement will let FOF promote a dangerous product, mislead area-residents on gay life and perpetuate outdated myths.

“This is analogous to Pinellas County allowing cigarette companies or asbestos manufactures to market their potentially deadly wares to children,” said Besen, author of Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth. “Focus on the Family traffics in hate, peddling a harmful product that has likely ruined many lives. What they do is scientifically empty and their claims of sexual conversion have been shown to fail.”

In 2000, Focus on the Family paid $5,000 to advertise in Tampa–area bus shelters for their “Love Won Out” conference, a traveling road show that purports to help people pray away the gay. This was the same year that Love Won Out founder John Paulk got photographed cruising in a Washington, DC gay bar.

Upon learning about the group’s hate speech and failures, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority rejected Focus on the Family’s bus station posters. FOF sued, hoping to use its vast resources to intimidate Pinellas into allowing FOF to run ads touting a defective, misleading product.

Under the settlement’s terms, reached this week, FOF will be allowed to promote “Love Won Out” on bus shelter ads in the future. Monetary damages were not included in the settlement.

“This was a victory for purveyors of false advertising and bullying legal tactics,” said Besen. “The real message that they should be preaching is ‘Out Love Wins.’ When gay people come out and accept themselves, they can live rich, fulfilling lives as whole human beings.”

Besen is a columnist and a former spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay advocacy group.

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