COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Pro-hunting campaign sparks advertising war

Anti-hunting supporters and charities have described as "cynical" a planned advertising campaign by the Countryside Alliance which will equate moves against hunting with prejudice against gay people and ethnic minorities.

The alliance is planning to launch the adverts, which will feature gay men and other minorities who hunt, within six weeks. It will attempt to make a connection between discrimination against minorities and discrimination by Labour MPs against people who hunt.

A Countryside Alliance spokesman said the adverts intended to show how widespread support for hunting was, and that the recent vote in Parliament for a bill which could lead to a total ban was not based on animal welfare but was "pure discrimination" against country people.

"We will be using a range of people who hunt, from different backgrounds and ethnic groups," he said. "The message is that all these people suffer discrimination because of race and sexuality, but also because they hunt."

The adverts will appear in national newspapers, as well as on thousands of billboards in supporters' fields across the country. Last week, the alliance launched a nation-wide advert featuring a nurse who hunts.

The League Against Cruel Sports said the campaign was "cynical marketing" which in the long term would work against the hunting cause. "If you go to a hunt, you'd be hard pressed to find ethnic minorities and lots of gay men," said a spokesman.

"Largely, people who go hunting are known as not being open to minorities such as these.

"The fact that the alliance has found minorities and a nurse who hunts does not change the essential truth that cruelty is cruelty."

The league is planning a series of its own minorities-based adverts.

Last year, both organisations ran adverts in Gay Times, linking sexuality with pro- and anti-hunt messages.

The RSPCA, which has been running anti-hunt adverts in magazines and the national press, said it would continue to use its media, web site and supporters to pressure the Government to force a total ban on hunting.

On 30 June, MPs voted for an amendment proposing a complete ban, which was passed by 362 votes to 154.

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