Street preacher Michael Overd has been found guilty of using threatening or abusive words after making homophobic remarks during a sermon delivered in Taunton High Street.
Overd was ordered to pay £250 to a passer-by who had been
'offended' by the preacher's comments, and he initially refused, at which point judge Shamim Qureshi threatened the preacher with a prison sentence. He has been ordered to pay total costs of £1200.
Overd intends to appeal his conviction and said
I follow my Lord and leader, so I won't tone down.
The street preacher was charged with a public order offence, after complaints were made by members of the public that he had made homophobic and Islamophobic remarks. In particular
he quoted Leviticus 20:13 :
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. (English Standard Bible)
The BBC reports that the judge told the preacher he seemed to enjoy testing the laws on free speech to their limits . Overd was also told that he should not have quoted from Leviticus 20:13 when speaking about homosexuality , according
to Christian Today, who also report that the judge suggested that there were other verses he could have chosen if he wanted to talk about what the Bible says about homosexuality.
Judge Qureshi also works as a judge for the Muslim
Arbitration Tribunal, which aims to help Muslims resolve disputes in accordance with Islamic Sacred Law.
Overd was found not guilty on two other charges, which included causing racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or
distress after he made critical remarks about the Muslim religious character Mohammed.
The National Secular Society has previously raised concerns about the trial's implications for free speech. Terry Sanderson, NSS president, said the ruling
appeared to make the quoting of certain passages of the Bible illegal:
Whilst we all want to encourage public civility, there is a higher principle at stake. As long as there is no incitement to violence, then people
should be allowed to speak freely without fearing legal repercussions.
Turkey's TV censor has issued fines to two TV music channels for broadcasting videos that showed sexuality scenes, including one that featured a lesbian kiss.
The Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK) fined Genk TV for airing Elliphant's
2014 One More music video.
The also whinged at Power TV for singer Pitbull's music video for Don't Stop the Party , for scenes of of passionate fondling of a woman's half naked body, as well as footage and gestures
similar to pornography .
In justifying the fines, RTUK cited the bigoted remarks on homosexuality made by Cem Kece's, head of the Turkish Sexual Health Institute. Kece claims that homosexuality is a a defect and against human nature, and the result of
US marketeers have straight-washed 2013 British film Pride so that it appeals to a wider US audience.
The DVD cover of the movie, based on the campaign of a gay and lesbian activist group, has been altered to remove references to the
film's focal theme of homosexuality.
In UK promotional material a banner reading lesbians and gays support the miners is seen behind the marching crowd. On the US version this banner has been digitally removed, and the synopsis has
eradicated any hint of homosexuality. In particular original UK promotional material referring to a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists, has been changed to London-based activists.
Ben Roberts, of the British Film
Institute, told The Independent:
I'm not surprised that the US distributors have taken a decision to sell more copies by watering down the gay content.
It's an unfortunate commercial reality
both here and in the US that distributors have to deal with. LGBT material is largely marginalised outside of rare hits like Brokeback Mountain.
Gay author Matt Cain criticised the move, saying it went against the spirit of the film,
but said it will be a positive thing if it means more people buy the DVD and watch it.
A few people took to Twitter to criticise the decision to downplay the gay theme.