Charges were dropped against a U.K. street preacher who was arrested for saying homosexuality is a sin.
After reviewing the evidence, crown prosecutors decided last week to discontinue the prosecution of Dale Mcalpine, as reported by the Christian Institute.
“It was a ridiculous charge, I should never have been arrested,” the 42-year-old preacher said. “I’m relieved that they have seen sense.”
Mcalpine was arrested in Workington, in Cumbria, last month while preaching to shoppers. He said he refrained from speaking about homosexuality in his sermon but when a passerby inquired on the issue, he told the person it was a sin.
He was then approached by a gay community support officer who took him to the police station where he was detained in a cell for seven hours and charged with causing “harassment, alarm or distress.”
The Christian Institute, a British charity committed to promoting the Christian religion in the United Kingdom, released hidden camera footage of the arrest.
It shows an officer asking Mcalpine, “What have you been saying, homophobic wise?”
Mcalpine responds, saying that homophobia is hatred toward homosexuals and maintains that he is not homophobic.
The preacher goes on to insist to the officer, who is joined by three other officers, that he is not there to break any laws and contends that it is not against the law to say homosexual behavior is a sin. But the officer quickly replies, saying there is a law prohibiting such speech.
“It’s a breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act,” the officer says.
Mcalpine then says that he did not speak of homosexuality while preaching to the public. He only mentioned it when he was talking to one individual.
He adds, “Even so, you know, it still is not against the law.”
He was then arrested.
Though the case was dropped, Mcalpine and the Christian Institute are weighing legal options to ensure that the incident doesn’t happen again.
“It’s important that we have them to defend our religious liberties,” he stated.
Christian Institute spokesman Simon Calvert commented, “Cumbria police can’t just walk away from this. They have arrested and charged an innocent man for no other reason than he peacefully expressed his religious beliefs.
“And it has happened in other parts of the country too. So there is clearly a problem with the system and it has to be put right.”
Meanwhile, Chief Superintendent Steve Johnson, police commander for West Cumbria, said balancing the law and people’s rights isn’t easy, especially when opinions and interpretations differ.
While reassuring the public that they respect and are committed to upholding the fundamental right to freedom of expression, Johnson said they are just as committed to “maintaining the peace and preventing people feeling alarmed or distressed by the actions of others in public places.”
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