A Christian street preacher was arrested for allegedly saying that homosexuality is a “sin” that goes against God.
Dale McAlpine, 42, was arrested in Workington, Cumbria, on April 20th. He had been standing on a stepladder delivering a sermon.
Mr McAlpine says he did not mention homosexuality as a sin while delivering his sermon but mentioned it quietly to a woman who approached him to challenge his views.
Police say he made the remark loud enough to have been overheard by members of the public and charged him with using abusive or insulting language, contrary to the Public Order Act.
He was also held in a cell for seven hours.
Mr McAlpine says he listed homosexuality along with blasphemy, fornication, adultery and drunkenness when the woman engaged him in conversation.
As she walked away, a Police Community Support Office (PSCO) who had been watching Mr McAlpine approached him to warn he would be arrested if he said anything racist or homophobic.
Mr McAlpine admits telling the PCSO, who identified himself as an LGBT liaison officer, that homosexuality is a sin. He was then arrested.
He said he told the officer: “I am not homophobic but sometimes I do say that the Bible says homosexuality is a crime against the creator.”
He is pleading not guilty to breaching the Public Order Act and has been released on bail.
Mr McAlpine told the Daily Mail: “We’re going down the route of a police state. Some people in the homosexual community may not like me after this. But it would be very intolerant of them to not allow me to have my say.”
In March, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell defended another street preacher who had been fined for criticising homosexuality.
Shawn Holes, 47, from New York state, was arrested in Glasgow city centre on March 18th after telling shoppers that gays were going to hell.
He was fined £1,000 by a judge for breaching the Public Order Act. Holes said he only expected to be fined £100 and accepted the fine because he wanted to get home quickly.
Mr Tatchell said that had he known about the case, he would have gone to court to defend Holes’ right to freedom of expression.
He described the £1,000 fine as “totally disproportionate” and added: “Even though I strongly disagree with his views on homosexuality, if he had decided to appeal against either the conviction or the sentence, I would have supported him.”