A street preacher from Taunton in Devon, UK, has been found not guilty of verbally abusing a couple of gay guys after he told them they’d burn in hell.
“The couple claimed he deliberately targeted them after a previous altercation with them in 2010 when they walked past him holding hands led to [his] being spoken to by police,” says the Huffington Post.
“But the 47-year-old born-again Christian and former paratrooper denied abusing them, arguing that he was using his freedom of speech to air his beliefs in the centre of Taunton, Somerset, when he told the pair: ‘Even these two dear men whom I have met before, caught in the sin of homosexuality, can have the forgiveness of the sin, should they so repent.’”
I hate to be agreeing with the dotty Stephen Green, he of the tinpot Christian Vice – sorry, Voice – when he says this is a victory for freedom of speech, but it is.
Once we start telling people they can’t disagree with others and tell them they’re wrong, it won’t be long before our lords and masters begin to use precedent to deliver all kinds of draconian legislation concerning what we can and can’t say.
Let’s be happy that nutters can call us sinners if they wish. We then continue to be free to call them nutters. Along the way comes debate – as here, and in other outlets – and eventually people begin to think. It’s probably only because debate has been more freely entered into over the past few decades that gay people have gained the freedoms they have in the UK (and what it can do to benefit politicians, of course, who could take away our newfound freedoms when it suits them, but may find it harder now than, say, two decades ago, because there’s more public opinion to reverse).
The gay couple are thinking of going to the European Court of Human Rights, saying (according to the Huff): “We tried to stand up for our human and gay rights and we have been let down.”