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Unilever scraps ‘homophobic’ Flora ad in South Africa

Anglo-Dutch food and cosmetics giant Unilever on Tuesday said it had it had removed an “offensive” advert for a popular margarine brand in South Africa after it was condemned as homophobic.

The advertising for Flora margarine, which is touted as rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and good for the heart, features a bullet inscribed with the words “Uhh, dad I’m gay” hurtling toward a porcelain heart.

“You need a strong heart today” reads the caption, next to the Flora logo and set against a light pink background.

Unilever has distanced itself from the ad, created by a South African agency.

“The advert is offensive and unacceptable and we have put an immediate stop to it,” Unathi Mgobozi, a spokeswoman for the South African arm of Unilever, said in a short statement to AFP.

She did not give details of how long the advert had been running or where it was published.

“This advert was prepared by an external agency in South Africa and was not approved by anyone at Unilever,” she said.

“Unilever is proud of the support that our brands have given to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, including our recent campaign for Ben & Jerry’s on equal marriage.”

Unilever’s ice-cream brand Ben and Jerry’s last month re-branded its Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavour to “I Dough, I Dough”, in support of same-sex marriages.

The local advertising company responsible for the Flora advert did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Despite having some of the world’s best legal protections for gay people, South Africa has seen numerous cases of homophobic violence, including deadly attacks on lesbians, who also risk falling victim to what is known as “corrective rape”.