A campaign by the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland to clear the name of the late anti gay preacher, Harry Hammond, has been backed by gay groups.

Mr Hammond was arrested and fined for public order offences in 2002 after holding signs up in Bournemouth which said “Stop Immorality, Stop Homosexuality, Stop Lesbianism,” he then died in 2003.

His family have tried to obtain a posthumous pardon on the basis of freedom of expression, but an appeal court said his actions “went beyond legitimate protest.”

But now Upper Bann MP David Simpson, backed by gay group, the Rainbow Project, has called on the British government to drop the sentence.

Mr Simpson told the Daily Ireland, “This case had a big impact on the evangelical constituency in this country.

“When we look at the treatment of Harry Hammond it is clear to see that when deeply-held religious convictions clash with human rights legislation, the latter will always win.

“Mr Hammond was attacked while protesting, but he ended up charged and convicted.”

Gary McKeever from The Rainbow Project said: “Mr Hammond was entitled to his opinion.

“It’s not a message we agree with, but he was entitled to hold it and profess it.”