There was a story doing the rounds a week or so ago about a street preacher in Workington being arrested under the Public Order Act for condemning homosexuality (I don’t know the technical term). I initially took this with a pinch of salt as it had appeared in the Daily Mail; a paper that I have little time for; it has an agenda in these matters that seems to run along the lines of ‘We are being overrun by politically correct lefties who are crushing our rights to be bigoted and wealthy and by the way we are being swamped by criminal immigrants…..bring back the birch/keep the pound’.
Reading the story in the Mail (no mean feat- I had to lie down afterwards and read the Sermon on the Mount to realise that being a British Christian was more than just being cross of and suspicious of everything) it did seem that the arresting officer was a tad over zealous.
So far, so typical, and then the story took a twist. Peter Tatchell, the gay rights/civil rights activist who has several times been beaten up for his sexuality or opposition to regimes who harrass gay people (in fact he sustained brain damage at the hands of Zimbabwe Government employees in Britain) offered to speak in his defence. That would be the same Peter Tatchell, once a Sunday school teacher, now an athiest, offering to stand up in court to defend a man he had no common cause with as he felt he was unfairly treated.
This from http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/12161
“Although I disagree with Dale McAlpine and support protests against his homophobic views, he should not have been arrested and charged. Criminalisation is a step too far,” said Mr Tatchell today.
“Despite my opposition to his opinions, I defend his right to freedom of expression,” he added.
Tatchell added: “Soon after I offered to appear as a defence witness and to argue in court for Mr McAlpine’s acquittal, the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case. The sudden withdrawal of charges may have been mere coincidence, but perhaps not.
“Mr McAlpine should have never been prosecuted in the first place. While the arresting officer may have acted with well-meaning intentions, he was over-zealous and interpreted the law in a harsh, authoritarian manner.”
Mr Tatchell said that although he regarded Mr McAlpine as “clearly homophobic”, he “did not express his opinion in a way that was aggressive, threatening or intimidating.”
The human rights campaigner, who had to stand down as a Green Party election candidate after sustaining brain damage following attacks following protests against persecution of gay people in Zimbabwe and Russia, said: “I am surprised and shocked that the CPS allowed the case to proceed at all. The Public Order Act is meant to protect people from harm. Dale McAlpine’s views are misguided and offensive but I see no evidence that they caused harm to anyone.
I wonder if all Christians would be prepared to speak out in such a way for people who oppose them , sometimes at risk to themselves?