WFLA target of protests

July 16th, 2009 by

TAMPA – A controversial, hour-long program was the subject of a large protest outside the studios of WFLA Channel 8 in Tampa Wednesday.

About 100 gay and lesbian activists and their supporters marched outside WFLA’s headquarters near downtown Tampa this afternoon to denounce what they call an anti-gay infomercial that the station aired the same weekend as St. Petersburg’s gay pride parade.

The show is called “Speechless: Silencing the Christians,” a film that urges its viewers to fight a “radical homosexual agenda” of persecuting Christians who find homosexuality morally wrong.

When Equality Florida, a state-wide gay rights group, learned Channel 8 planned to air the program, they contacted Media General, WFLA’s parent company, and were told by a spokesman the company did not find it to be hateful or offensive.

“He added the comment that people who ‘choose the homosexual lifestyle’ may find it a little, we might find it to be hateful,” said Zeke Fread, an activist at Wednesday’s rally.

Equality Florida then sent out e-mails urging people to call the station to ask them not to air the program. They say the station received thousands of calls and e-mails asking them not to air the program.

But the station ran the infomercial, the same day as an estimated 80,000 people converged in St. Petersburg for the city’s annual gay pride parade.

“It was just terrible timing, and a horrible thing to do. And they ignored us,” Fread said.

Equality Florida then organized today’s rally, which drew about 100 people.

“This is not an infomercial,” Fread said. “They aren’t trying to sell anything. They are trying to convince people that we want special rights. Equal rights are only special rights to people when they are denied them.”

Media General has not commented on the decision to air the program.

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