A new television commercial promoting an HIV/AIDS prevention initiative has a number of South Africans in a tizzy.
Simply titled "Kiss," the commercial was produced for We The Brave, a local gay men's sexual health campaign and a collaborative effort by the Anova Health Institute and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The clip shows a same-sex couple sharing a passionate kiss at a dinner table while an older man, who is presumably one of the men's father, looks on in astonishment. The camera then cuts to a close-up of a sealed condom being unwrapped.
"We're brave enough to come out," a caption reads. "So we're definitely brave enough to cover up."
The "Kiss" commercial was produced last summer and began airing on South African television in February, but apparently, the backlash against it has only made headlines recently. According to Channel 24 News, the clip, which is believed to be the country's first to show a same-sex kiss, was generated an onslaught of complaints to South Africa's Advertising Standards Authority (or ASA), with some calling it "offensive," "disgusting" and "inappropriate," among other criticisms.
The response to the ad is a bit surprising given South Africa's attitude toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, which is generally considered progressive. Meanwhile, Nina Morris-Lee, who is the head of marketing at the Anova Health Institute, said in a statement that the aim for the aid was "not to shock," but rather to "attract our market through creating scenarios to which they relate."
"With 4.9 million South Africans – 10 percent of the population – identifying as homosexual, this is a matter of public interest and urgency," Morris-Lee said in the statement, which appeared on Mamba Online. "We do not have the luxury of tiptoeing around the issues."
The Huffington Post has reached out to a spokesperson for the Anova Health Institute and is awaiting comment.