The city council of Blackpool in the U.K. has said that it’s up to the country’s authorities to determine whether evangelist Franklin Graham’s conservative views on homosexuality and Islam amount to hate speech that would bar him from entering the country.
Graham is scheduled to speak at the Lancashire Festival of Hope in September, though almost 7,500 people have signed an online petition seeking to bar him from the U.K.
Councillor Maria Kirkland, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for Third Sector Engagement and Leisure Services, responded to the controversy in a statement to anti-Muslim attack monitoring group TellMAMA Tuesday, saying, “The council has been made aware of a number of alleged comments and opinions on topics including gender, sexuality, race and immigration by Franklin Graham, the main speaker at this event.”
Kirkland continued, “The council’s position on these matters is robust and clear. We want to tackle discrimination, promote equality and increase respect and understanding between people regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation or any such matter that can be subject to prejudice in our society.”
She added that “decisions in law, over the nature of Franklin Graham’s reported comments and whether or not they constitute Incitement to hate, a criminal act in the U.K., are entirely matters for the Home Office.”
Kirkland insisted, however, that the council also has a contractual obligation to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association over the booking, and believes in free speech rights.
Still, she added that if it’s proven that Graham encourages hatred and discrimination, the council “will not hesitate to terminate this booking.”
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Source: Christian Post