An Australian wedding magazine has closed after LGBT+ activists used the power of the ‘pink pound’ to persuade advertisers to abandon it, over a decision not to cover same-sex marriages.
The founders of White Magazine, Luke and Carla Burrell, said they had decided to close it after experiencing a “flood of judgement” that left it unviable.
“A campaign was launched targeting the magazine, our team and our advertisers”, said the couple, who decided not to include same-sex couples for religious reasons, in a statement.
“The result has been that a number of advertisers withdrew their sponsorship out of fear of being judged, or in protest. We have had to recognise the reality that White Magazine is no longer economically viable”.
Australia legalised same-sex marriages in December last year.
The magazine is the latest company to close, as LGBT+ campaigners have increasingly focused on businesses refusing to comply with requests from gay and transgender customers.
In the United States, Sweet Cakes by Melissa closed in 2016, following a row over the owners’ refusal to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding three years earlier.
At the heart of the matter is the growing economic clout of gay and trans consumers – and their importance for advertisers.
Research conducted by Kantar Consulting, part of the major advertising group WPP, estimated LGBT+ buying power in the United States alone at $1 trillion in 2016 – almost equal to African-American or Hispanic consumers.
“As a business principle you can’t close your doors to certain people”, said Sean Howell, co-founder of Hornet, an LGBT+ social network that commissioned the Kantar survey.
“If you close them for gay people, are you going to close them to any woman who’s ever had an abortion?
“I don’t think it is the place of business to make a moral judg[e]ment against people; business by its nature should be open”, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Monday.
Advertisers around the world have taken note.
Smirnoff vodka, and frozen food company, McCain, are among the brands to have launched specifically LGBT+ advertisements in recent years.
“As a publication, (the White Magazine) has the right to cover what they want, but as a flipside, as consumers we have the right to consume what we want”, said Sian Hainsworth, founder and head of production at social content agency, Live & Wired.
“What this shows to me is that the majority want to consume media that reflects all of society”.
Many countries explicitly outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexuality for companies offering goods and services.
However, last month, Britain’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a refusal by Northern Ireland-based, Ashers Baking Company, to bake a cake bearing the words ‘Support Gay Marriage’ was not discriminatory.
Hugo Greenhalgh, Thomson Reuters Foundation