Accusations of homophobia have broken out in France after a dozen town mayors asked for HIV-prevention posters featuring gay men kissing to be taken down in their towns.
The campaign shows men of different ages and races embracing, with the following slogan underneath: “with a lover, a friend, with a stranger: the situations vary, the protection does too.”
Bruno Beschizza, the mayor of Aulnay-sous-Bois, ordered the posters to be covered with a yellow sign saying “Protect Our Children.”
He denied any accusations of homophobia, however, saying he would have reacted the same way had the ad featured a heterosexual couple kissing.
Critics have said the posters are “against good values and morality” and that they wanted to protect the innocence of children by having them removed.
Christophe Bechsaid, mayor of the western city of Angers, said residents and parents had complained so he had asked for the posters to be taken down but “only in the vicinity of schools and the route of school buses”.
President Francois Hollande’s socialist government is trying to raise awareness about the dangers of unprotected sex.
Health minister Marisol Touraine said the local bans were unacceptable and urged people to share the images as a way to fight back against homophobia.