The campaign, designed by TBWA\Paris, uses black and white visuals, photographed by Mathieu César. - Aides
Aides, the French association fighting HIV, was summoned to the police station after the public prosecutor of Laval (a town in western France) found that three complaints were admissible. The complaints denounced the "broadcasting of a violent or pornographic message" on the posters of its latest prevention campaign, according to a January 10 report by Thomas Vampouille on the French news site, Marianne.
The poster campaign is called "Revelation". In a series of four photographs in black and white, it stages four couples, three of them hetero, one gay) naked and intertwined (obviously no intimate parts are shown), all flanked by this message: "People living with HIV getting treatment have many things to share with us. But not the HIV virus.”
Aides stated its goal was to reduce the stigma against people living with HIV but in fact what has been a "revelation" is the small-town prudishness and homophobia uncovered in several towns nestled in the French countryside. Notably in Laval, capital of Mayenne, where the Aides office has been tagged by graffiti several times in recent weeks so local residents could no longer see these offending posters. In Nantes, the office window at the Aides office was destroyed by a projectile shot on the night of Friday 6th to 7th of January.
Last week legal action was taken. Three complaints against the prevention campaign were filed in Laval, a town in western France, about 300 km west-southwest of Paris, likely by locals. And they were taken very seriously by the local prosecutor, who launched an investigation. The result: the Aides Network’s activities director, Muriel Briffault was summoned to the police station last Friday to answer questions about the posters. "The public prosecutor's office asked us to remove them," reported the association`s director, who refused to comply: "We live in a state of laws and benefit from the fundamental principle that we are presumed innocent until the contrary is shown."
What is the association accused of? They are charged pursuant to article 227-24 of the (French) penal code with "distribution of a violent or pornographic message contrary to dignity, and accessible to a minor". These charges are a criminal offense punishable by a three-year term and a fine of 75,000 euros. The ‘protection of children’ was the argument used last November, when the government distributed HIV prevention posters depicting gay couples had been aggressively denounced by right-wing politicians.
The prosecutor has informed Aides that the police investigation is finished. The association now waits to find out whether the case will end up in Court. In the meantime, Aides launched its own complaint on the vandalizing of its office. "We are the victims," insists Muriel Briffault, who is concerned about "an underlying climate of hate."
Le report français est disponible ici.