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Sexist and racist advertising could be banned in future
State secretary for urban development, Pascal Smet, is investigating the possibility of banning sexist advertising in public space. There is currently no regulation regarding discriminatory posters or social media ad campaigns in the capital.
In 2019, Brussels state secretary of equal opportunities, Nawal Ben Hamou, filed a complaint against GoodLife Foods, producer of the Bicky Burger, with the Jury for Ethical Practices in Advertising. She claimed that the cartoon ad picturing a man punching out a woman (pictured above) – in the iconic style of Roy Lichtenstein – condoned violence against women.
She wasn’t alone: Some 300 people, including other politicians, complained to the Dutch company, which apologised and pulled the ad off its social media accounts. This week, Ben Hamou responded to a parliamentary question on the subject of whether Brussels could regulate inappropriate advertising.
There is currently no legislation around advertising that discriminates against a specific group. But there is legislation that touches on the subject of discrimination against individuals, and Smet’s office is looking into how this text might be adapted.
A ban on discriminatory advertising would take on not only misogyny, she said, but also racism, homophobia and xenophobia. “Commercial communications cannot give the impression that they encourage or condone violent, illegal or anti-social behaviour,” said Ben Hamou.