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Christian street preacher to sue police over arrest for allegedly homophobic public sermon

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  1. theotherone 27 May 2010, 11:37am

    At the time of Mr Mcalpine’s initial arrest, LGBT and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell condemned the move saying: “Causing offence to others is not a legitimate basis for putting a person on trial. Nearly everyone holds opinions that someone else might find offensive.”

    –damn right there.

  2. I believe anyone who follows disproven dogma clearly has a psychological illness.
    People do not have a right of freedom if it is used to incite hatred.
    The rights of people who are must ALWAYS come before the “rights” of people that believe.

  3. Agreed Andrew.
    This is very relevant:

  4. theotherone 27 May 2010, 12:12pm

    and if we make illegal the act of speaking then we make all speaking illegal.

    ‘ Mr Mcalpine, who said he disagreed, was later arrested and charged with creating “harrassment, alarm or distress” contrary to section five of the public order act.;

    That’s a bit vague isn’t it? Do I cause alarm if I say I am not a Christian? that I am a Transwoman? If the police and Prosecuters decide that their Christian values have been offended then could I be arrested and charged?

  5. Just look at the posts on Pink News – we hold differing views all the time. Freedom of speech means you may not always like what people have to say but we all have a right to say it, provided it does not incite violence. No evidence at all that this case crossed the line from free speech to violence.

  6. I don’t care how mad he is with his religious delusions just so long as he doesn’t insist we kiss his ring when he is out on the streets.

  7. Stewart I understand what you are trying to say. However while this is a public forum it on a specific website. Not the same. Saying that a a type of person is a “sin” isn’t the same as saying that the tories should not be trusted.

  8. theotherone 27 May 2010, 12:25pm

    well that would be indecency johnny B :-)

  9. theotherone 27 May 2010, 12:27pm

    andrew Q: problem is that laws like this cut both ways and I know people who have got into trouble with the Police for protesting against Religionists.

  10. freedom of speech comes with a reponsibilty, and it is this that needs to be looked at. Once in this counrty , if not the world, it was right to use terms that were racist. This words turned to violence and hate. It was the start of a rolling ball. It is the same whem some one uses hate about us. My new neigbour last year, a relgious man , came up to me and proceeded to tell me that I was gay because my mother used chemicals in the house when I was young. He then gave me a small lecture on the gay lobby. As each hateful and untrue word came out of his mouth , he finished by telling me he was using his freedom of speech. So I guess does the skin head that crosses a road and yells abuse at a young gay guy also using his freedom of speech? But you see speech never stops there. Because some one will always take it to the next level. Speech educates and directs people to take actions good and bad. Do I want freedom of speech? Yes , but I want it that when I go to say some thing or write something , I have to think about the actions and causes that my words might have.

  11. theotherone 27 May 2010, 12:48pm

    no one is condoning the investment to violence but I ask again: do you agree with laws that could be used against Queer people protesting?

    Incidentaly: I had a similar experience to yours when a smiling gentelman came up to me and said that Allah did not agree with me and thought me sinful. I told him I didn’t give a fvck what Allah said. Hope I didn’t offend him or I could be arrested under this law…

  12. Mihangel apYrs 27 May 2010, 12:55pm

    theotherone, you could be done for inciting religious hatred (I believe the religionists are a protecte class!)

  13. “freedom of speech comes with a reponsibility”

    Agreed, dave. And I also echo what Andrew Q said regarding beliefs. Beliefs aren’t sacrosanct. Just because someone strongly believes something doesn’t give them the freedom to break the law (talking in general, not saying this preacher did). And protection of beliefs shouldn’t be included with protection of who people are, in my opinion.

    That would also help in the cases you’ve mentioned,theotherone.

  14. Oops – also, I forgot to add that, being a cynic, I feel there’s something very pre-meditated about this preaching, arrest and decision to sue. The CI are always looking for ways to portray ‘Christians’ as victims, and this case would suit them perfectly to further their twisted agenda.

  15. Can someone gay counter-sue the guy for defamation?

  16. Dave makes a good point. Once the ball starts rolling it gathers momentum. If we look at what it happening in Malawi and Uganda and the origins of the anti LGBT retorict you can see the dangers of not keeping a check on the promotion of religious doctorine.
    We should also consider that we don’t know what he said but the police felt it enough to justify an arrest. The CPS would also have taken account of the consequence of the negative. Reaction to bringing this to trial and that the arrest sent out a clear enough message that such behaviour would not go ignored.

  17. Pumpkin Pie 27 May 2010, 2:21pm

    If I was out shopping and there was some guy telling me that I’m sinful because of my sexuality or my race, I’d consider that harrassment and expect to see him arrested. There can never be “true” freedom of speech while we still criminalise harrassment. And we should criminalise harrassment.

  18. The whole freedom of speech thing is a philosophical minefield.
    The bottom line is we’re all equal under the law so if he can’t tell us that we’re hellbound sinners, I can’t tell him that I don’t believe his religious BS and he can go forth and multiply.
    The incitement to harm element is why John Stuart Mill talked about the harm principle in “On Liberty” and maybe that’s the only logical cutoff point.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech#Limitations_on_freedom_of_speech
    As I understand, this guy wasn’t randomly spouting homophobic bigotry at anyone who would listen in any case. He was asked for his specific opinion on gay issues and he gave it.
    As unpalatable as his response is, if you asked someone directly what they think about immigrants and they said they thought they should all be deported and they were a member of the local KKK, to report that person to the police for giving a straight answer to a direct question smacks of an Orwellian state.
    You can argue with people about their opinions, but arresting them for speaking their mind is a slippery slope, and should only be given the green light if they are attempting to raise a lynchmob or similar. However, what constitutes incitement is a very fuzzy area.

  19. theotherone – Religion, culture and politics are all open for discussion and debate. Race, sexual determination and gender are not.

  20. It is not at all clear that he was actually warned and arrested for making homophobic comments by the police, the video filmed of his arrest seems to suggest he was making racist comments and that was why he was arrested… so I think it might possibly be the old bait and switch trick being played here.

  21. Pavlos; it would be interesting to watch said video, got a link?

  22. The arrest was filmed by a hidden camera, link below; why was a “street preacher” carrying a hidden camera?

  23. BobbetStillTheSame 27 May 2010, 4:34pm

    I’m still waiting for ppl like theotherone and squidgy to openly defend the right of racists and anti-semites to offend.

  24. Another fanatic getting a “pass” and making money off it in the bargain. I hope gets nothing. He’s a Xian. Aren’t they supposed to be happy to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake? Hmm…suffering for Jesus for fun and profit.

  25. BobbetStillTheSame 27 May 2010, 4:40pm

    The Ku Klux Klan is to this day fighting tooth and nail for their right to offend. Is theotherone and squidgy also supporting their endeavour?

  26. You’ll see in the Youtube video Seven links to above @22 that although there is a lot of talk about homosexuality in the lead up to the arrest it may not be why he was being arrested, the arresting officer actually says, “You are arrested for a racially aggravated Section 5 Public Order offence”

  27. Seven of Nine 27 May 2010, 4:54pm

    Would the Christain Institute also defend, say, a preacher who stood on a ladder in a Brixton street and preached the Old Testament values favouring slavery ? Does a person have the right to do that in a place where it would cause offence?

    We still don’t know what this guy said that was allegedly racist; it’s a shame he didn’t also record or post his own preaching while he had the equipment on him.

  28. The Halcyon 27 May 2010, 4:59pm

    Dan Mcalpine – what about the Christian virtue of “turning the other cheek”?

    Hypocrite.

  29. BobbetStillTheSame 27 May 2010, 5:12pm

    The Christian Institute, while posing as the defenders of free speech, denies it to those who disagree with them.

  30. Ah, the Christian Institute – “Christian” only in name, unfortunately. They always raise their little heads at this kind of stuff, they should rename their little militant band “The Obsessed With Homosexuality Institute”….

  31. Yes they seem very keen to criminalise others’ freedom of expression for example that of shop owners to display legal girlie mags for sale in their own shops.

  32. theotherone 27 May 2010, 7:24pm

    ‘I’m still waiting for ppl like theotherone and squidgy to openly defend the right of racists and anti-semites to offend.’

    and

    ‘The Ku Klux Klan is to this day fighting tooth and nail for their right to offend. Is theotherone and squidgy also supporting their endeavour?’

    Because, ofcorse, you have the right to decide what is appropriate speech don’t you? Relax everyone! The ‘philosophical minefield’ (as pie called it) of Free Speech has been cleared!

    All hail BobbetStillTheSame!

    All Hail BobbetStillTheSame!

  33. theotherone 27 May 2010, 7:26pm

    hey BobbetStillTheSame I’ve got something to tell you – two years ago I was under a six month investigation because I exercised my Freedom Of Speech.

    I think that gives me some authority on the subject does it not?

  34. theotherone 27 May 2010, 7:29pm

    I should clarify: I offended a Religious Group with what I wrote about them.

  35. I think it rather depends what he was saying about homosexuality – if he was inciting violence or saying we need to be cured, that would be an appropriate reason to do something about him. However if he’s just saying that he considers a sin or disagrees with it, then that’s him exercising free speech and there’s not much we can or should do about that, no matter how much we might disagree with him.

  36. I have to admit, freedom of speech has often been a bewildering concept for me.
    I think the confusion is around where does free speech translate into hatespeech and should there even be a category for hatespeech in a democracy?
    At one end of the scale if someone offends me with a bigoted opinion, I don’t think it’s my right to report them to the police just for saying what they think.
    That said, if they stepped it up a number of gears and held a mini Nuremburg rally telling people to eradicate the gay problem and form a lynch mob, that starts to sound like classic hatespeech to me.
    Somewhere in between we have the Westboro baptists who don’t actually intend to lynch us but go out of their way to harass us in the street and claim we should repent/ be cured.
    And how about NARTH claiming gayness can be cured and spreading their ex-gay dogma to Africa?
    My basic problem is where do you draw the line between incitement to actual harm and free expression, and mere insult and harassment?
    Is picketing funerals permitted? Handing out homophobic pamplets saying the world would be better off without us? Is it about intent?
    I always think that without Goebbels insidious use of propaganda the 3rd reich wouldn’t have had quite the public support they did, but at what stage could you say they crossed the line from freedom of expression into an oppressive force to be reckoned with?
    It’s that dividing line between what’s permissible and what’s not that’s so vague. Much of the damage is done long before the first lynchmob kicks in your door, but criminalising certain types of speech just opens another ethical can of worms.

  37. Mr McAlpine was simply expressing his beliefs. He was not forcing anyone to listen to him, nor was he inciting violence. The Police were out of order and clearly exceeded their powers.

  38. If someone preaches that homosexuality is wrong/sinful/abomination and that gays should be stoned to death and I will be punished with eternal pain unless I change, is that a threat and harassment. (it is what the bible says)

    If I believe them but cannot change, it has the potential to cause psychological problems or depression, does that mean they are causing harm.

    If I am not homosexual and hear the message and decide to stone a few gays can I say that god told me, or the preacher told me. If it is OK to preach it, it must be OK to do it right?

    Preachers do not stand there just to read the bible, they are there to motivate change in attitudes and behaviours and beliefs. They are there to make people take action both mental and physical. They want us to hate ourselves or for others to hate us so that either we want to change ourselves or others will force us to change.

    I regard all of that as harassment at best and engendering hatred at worst.

    I get to hear this quite often in Belfast, and it is not comfortable and whilst I believe in free speech I also believe you have to take the consequences of what you say.

  39. Personally i don’t see why in this day and age we need ‘church preachers’ in the street preaching, esp when it’s clear they can make such vile, libellous remarks to a bunch of people in the comfort of their church on Sundays.

    Have to say whenever I’ve seen them in the past I’ve noticed most people if not all stay clear and actually go out of their way to avoid. Most see them for the nutters they appear to be.

    Whilst I actually feel this is a Freedom of Speech issue I do feel that there is plenty in the bible to cover without using parts that clearly insult and offend.

    Unusually in part I agree with Peter Tatchell whilst it may be this Christians preachers right to say what he feels I question the need to be knowingly be disrespectful of groups of people. One thing you can be assured that wouldn’t be stood for if the situation was in reverse.

  40. Squidgy – Good point. If I stood on a streetcorner and read the opening paragraph of Ch.2 of ‘the God Delusion’ out in public:
    ” The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, meglomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully”
    Is that hatespeech/ harassment against someone’s deeply held beliefs for which I should be arrested or is that my freedom of expression? I only ask because for me that’s on a level with someone with a megaphone quoting Leviticus to a gay person in terms of offence to a Christian audience. How universal are these rules governing free speech?

  41. Its not really the same, your statement about the god of the old testament is not about belief but a direct reflection of and evidenced by what they have written in their own book about their god.

    Reading Leviticus is making statements about a 3rd party group of people, denigrating them as abominations without evidence and demanding violence against them.

    I see a difference here.

  42. It would be interesting to debate if the bible was written today would anyone risk publishing it, would the Daily Mail serialise it, would Hollywood make the movie, would it be read out on Book at Bedtime, could you preach it from street corners ?

    Mind you we might not have homophobia if it and its equals hadn’t been written, so maybe no-one would think to write such diatribe.

  43. @Flapjack

    That is an excellent point.

    I feel basically that because it have been written in these religious text books, not matter what religion, it somehow seems to give these people the power and right to spew it and use the books as defence. Again its more proof that a lot (but by no means all) of religious people use old writings to hide behind because low and behold should they actually have an opinion of their own.

    I’m not religious, I find them all dangerous, all hypocrites (with maybe the acception of Buddists) but if God gave us the body, that includes a brain and I don’t know about you but I don’t see the point in having a brain if your going to rely on a book to tell you everything to do, say, think!! Sure everything comes with a manual but ppppplease.. :)

    @Dave

    Actually you too make a valid point about the timing of the Bible. I do understand why they came about and I do feel that has nothing to do with religion but more to do with making rules in life but lets not forget these were written by a bunch of men full of superiority, power, discrimination against race, sex, gender. It’s these bunch of men that people have been hanging off every word for thousands of years.

    Would that be put up with now? I don’t know, probably. I believe it was originally done to stop man destroying themselves but look at the world now. The fact remains these books are creating the religious society that are intend on destroying all around them who don’t support them. Sadly people feel the need to be comforted by such book, personally I feel every people is born with a basic knowledge of whats right or wrong. It’s how the mind is trained. With religion that usually means hate.

    For all it’s worth people say God is about love, personal I don’t think thats true but I’m pretty sure we were put on this Earth to at least get along with one another…. However that be!!

  44. Great to see so many have taken an interest in this article. I am dssapointed with Peter Tatchells position for him to defend this persons right to speak in amanner that can lead to distress out in public is one thing but what about when they do it behind closed doors in their churches. I can remember the days when Tatchell made storming Easter Sunday surmons from the pulpit a sport.
    God that makes me sound old, reallity I guess I am.

  45. Well, homosexuality isn’t a sin it’s a sexual orientation.
    If morbidly obssessive, pseudo-religious nutbags want to harangue the public with a message that homosexuality is a sin, then they should legally be required to qualify that statement by saying “for Christians homosexuality is a sin” or even more appropriately “for bigoted Christians who have read a homophobic interpretation into the writings of the Bible, homosexuality is a sin” because for the rest of us homosexuality is not a sin.

  46. Trooper Thompson 30 May 2010, 1:55am

    Do you people realise how fascistic you sound? Not all of you, of course, some have defended free speech. Peter Tatchell is totally right, and it’s sad that such a simple concept eludes so many of the commenters here. And talk about stretching the story. He was not preaching about homosexuality. He was approached and asked a question, which he answered honestly. You don’t agree? Fine. So what? That’s the great thing about freedom. We don’t have to all agree.

    Free speech means you can say whatever you want. End of story. And it’s the same for everyone, we all win. The religious can say what they want, the anti-religious likewise, and anyone who wants to take offence can do so. If you’re looking for ‘hatespeech’ check above, some of these comments drip hatred.

    Incitement to violence (or any crime) is not a free speech matter, it relates to the crime that is being incited, and becomes a kind of conspiracy to commit that crime. The vague way some of you would like to classify anything objectionable as being an incitement to violence is dangerous and false.

    As for the ‘racially aggravated’ my guess is that this was a slip of the tongue by the copper.

  47. Pumpkin Pie 1 Jun 2010, 2:49am

    Free speech means you can say whatever you want. End of story.

    That’s why we don’t have true freedom of speech. Never have (treason used to be a big thing), never will. And a good thing, too.

    Is it OK if I make sexual comments to children, so long as I make it explicitly clear that I would never act on any of my comments? Also, your incitement to violence argument is specious. People who say that gays should be killed are not directly inciting violence. They are not threatening anything, merely stating what they believe should happen. If you’re supporting true freedom of speech, you have to support their right to say that.

    I suppose you might argue that saying such things leads to violence. And denouncing people as abominations doesn’t? Either you stick up for the right to say violent things, or I’m declaring you a massive hypocrite.

  48. Roger Pearse 27 Aug 2010, 7:31pm

    Glad to see that most commenters have grasped that encouraging the police to arrest people for saying Wrong Things (defined by someone with lobbyist access in London) is an appalling thing, wherever you stand on this. Locking up sandwichboardmen for proclaiming sin is like arresting old ladies for having blue rinses. You have to hate someone pretty badly to lock them up for disagreeing with you.

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