The Mayor of London has been criticised after adverts promoting tourism in Saudi Arabia appeared on the TfL Network last month despite the Mayor having previously listed Saudi Arabia as one of several countries banned from advertising on the TfL network due to human rights concerns.
In 2019, TfL suspended advertising by eleven countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan over poor human rights records.
At the time TfL stated that their advertising partners have been asked not to approve any new campaigns from the identified states and their state-owned entities on the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s (ILGA’s) list of countries where being LGBTQ+ could result in the death penalty.
Meanwhile, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan had said: “Given the global role London plays championing LGBT+ rights, the Mayor has asked that TfL review how it treats advertising and sponsorship from countries with anti-LGBT+ laws.”
Despite this, posters advertising by ‘Visit Saudi Arabia’, (the state-owned Saudi Tourism Authority) were spotted at Canning Town Station last month, seemingly contradicting this policy.
When questioned by Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member & Transport Spokesperson Caroline Pidgeon earlier this summer over whether the policy was still in place, Sadiq Khan responded by stating that the policy was not in fact to ban, but a policy to refer to each advert by these states on a case-by-case basis.
The Liberal Democrats have called on TfL and the Mayor of London to come clean on whether or not they are still enforcing the policy.
Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon said, “It is a disgrace that TfL and the Mayor have seemingly let this policy lapse without informing anyone, or have decided that Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is now not of a concern.
“The Liberal Democrats strongly believe that advertising on Transport for London’s network should reflect London’s role as one of the world’s most diverse cities and reject placements from states who don’t share the same guiding principles.
“Authoritarian states that hold the death penalty for members of the LGBTQ+ community simply for being who they are, among other serious human rights concerns, have no place promoting themselves on TfL property.
“The Mayor and TfL must come clean on whether they are still applying their previous policy and if they are they must ensure it is actually being enforced without inconsistency.”