In an announcement on Tuesday, the Advertising Standard Bureau (ASB) has finally held that lamb advertisement showing Hindu deity Lord Ganesha eating meat breached the Advertising Standard code of Australia
On 4 September, Meat and Livestock Australia had released a video ad promoting lamb meat which showed Lord Ganesha sitting among gods and goddesses and prophets of different faiths coming together over lamb at a barbecue.
The Hindu community in Australia was furious at the ad and took various measures to stop the advertisement from been broadcast, appealing to politicians from both parties, starting online campaigns and more. The community had also complained to the ASB claiming the ad hurt religious sentiments. Mid-September the ASB had dismissed the complaints against the ad saying it does not discriminate against or vilify a person or section of the community on account of their religion.
“There were many complaints registered with the ASB. However, the ASB initially held that the ad was not in breach of the Advertising Standard code,” says Karthik Arasu, a member of the Hindu community who spearheaded campaigns against the ad.
“We decided to file for a review. We filed for a review on the basis of what we felt was a substantial flaw in Board’s decision, and in the review process or how the decision was made,” adds Arasu.
Arasu adds that the independent reviewer accepted their submission and asked the board to reconsider its decision. The announcement that came on Tuesday states, “The majority of the Board therefore considered that the Elephant comment amount to a depiction or portrayal of material which discriminated against a person on account of their Hindu religion. The Board also considered that the advertisement showed more respect to the Islam God Mohammed by not depicting him due, in the Board’s view, to greater profile of that religion in Australian society—with more people likely to know that a depiction would be a breach of a fundamental tenet of that religion. The majority of the Board considered therefore that Lord Ganesha, and by extension people of the Hindu faith, were given less favourable treatment than the other deities and that this amounted therefore to a depiction of material that vilifies a section of the community on account of their Hindu religion.
“After taking into account the Independent Reviewer’s finding that the Board gave insufficient weight to the views of complainants in regards to the Elephant Comment, the Board determined that the advertisement breached section 2.1 of the Code and upheld complaints.”
This is a great victory for the entire Hindu community, says Arasu. “We lost in the complaint process, but we stood together and persisted.”