'Gay Away' gimmick candy at Manitoba store offends parents

A novelty item that claims to "cure gayness" has been removed from a store's shelves in Gimli, Man., after parents expressed shock that the product was available there.

Gimli store owner says addition of novelty product was an 'honest mistake'

Novelty item that claims to "cure gayness" has been removed from a store in Gimli, Man., after parents expressed shock that the product was available there. 1:51

A novelty item that claims to "cure gayness" has been removed from a store's shelves in Gimli, Man., after parents expressed shock that the product was available there.

Packs of "Gay Away: The original gay pill" were on display alongside other gag products inside the store.

Slogans on the pink package claim that it "cures gayness" and "stops the craving for misbehaving." Inside is a blister pack containing 10 pieces of candy.

But while Gay Away claims to be just a gimmick, Gimli residents like Mona Johnson were not amused.

"It's absolutely not right," Johnson said Wednesday.

"I'm embarrassed, actually, to tell you the truth, that you guys found this in our community…. I don't support this is any way, shape or form."

A parent, who did not want to be named, said his 12-year-old daughter brought a pack of Gay Away home because she had questions about what it was about.

Johnson and others said the product is offensive and could send hurtful messages to the gay and lesbian community.

The store's owner told CBC News on Wednesday afternoon that she has removed the gag item from shelves after receiving calls from concerned parents.

Rachelle Mistelbacher apologized and insisted that her business is still a family store, and the addition of Gay Away was an oversight and an "honest mistake."

Calls to Laughrat, the Toronto-based company that produced Gay Away and other gag items, were not returned on Wednesday.

In an email sent to CBC News on Friday, Laughrat said Gay Away's creator believes it's a "pro gay product that pokes fun at not gays but rather those people opposed to gay lifestyles.

"The inspiration for this product was born out of the ignorance of amongst others religious organizations and others in society who suggested that homosexuality was a 'curable disease or condition' and a lifestyle choice," the company's email states in part.

The company added that Gay Away has been sold in hundreds of North American retailers since 2008.

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