“We are really surprised because we don't think it's controversial,” Mikael Andersson of the Skåne-based affiliate of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, told the advertising trade magazine Resumé.
Andersson's comments came after learning that two prominent newspapers in southern Sweden, Sydsvenskan and City, refused to run the advertisement, one of four in a campaign entitled “Kärleken har många ansikten” (‘Love has many faces').
The campaign, which includes both print and television ads, was part of an effort by local branch RFSL Rådgivning Skåne to strengthen the identity of homosexual, bisexual, and transgender people living in the region.
According to Sydsvenskan editor-in-chief Daniel Sandström, the fourth ad in the series, which featured three partially clothed women wrapped in a seemingly passionate embrace, was unacceptable.
“I have no problem with printing provocative images; we had pictures from, among others, artist Andres Serrano,” he told Resumé, referring to the American artist behind controversial works such as “Piss Christ” and the “Blood and Semen” series.
“But the picture in question simply didn't meet standards of acceptability. I think rather that it reproduces a cliché-filled image of lesbian love.”
But RFSL's Andersson refuted the editor's assertion, arguing instead that the picture was not a cliché image.
“They aren't thought of as stereotypical images meant to tempt the viewer,” he explained in a statement.
“Rather it's the models who are doing something between themselves.”
He added that all the pictures in the campaign must be considered together and that it's important to have all the pictures published in all the media running the campaign.
Andersson theorized that the newspapers deemed the image in question as “not appropriate” due to some “idea of press ethics”.
A broadcast ad featured in RFSL's "Love has many faces" campaign