Waterstone’s defend decision to cancel gay author event

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A leading bookseller has said that it was “unwise” to go ahead with the launch of a gay poet’s new book at a Cardiff store because of the threat of disruption from fundamentalist Christians.

A spokesperson for Waterstone’s told PinkNews.co.uk that Patrick Jones’ new collection of poems, Darkness is Where the Stars Are, is still on sale in the Cardiff store despite hundreds of demands that it be withdrawn.

Some of the poems explore issues of faith, though Christianity is not singled out.

Fundamentalist group Christian Voice claim the poems are blasphemous.

Their concerted campaign against Waterstone’s led to the cancellation of yesterday’s launch as “it was unwise to go ahead with a potentially disruptive event.”

Stephen Green, the leader of Christian Voice who is notorious for his homophobic views, was triumphant.

“The Lord had not even showed me what we should do at Waterstone’s, only that it should be Christlike,” he told the BBC.

“Just the knowledge that we were on our way has put the fear of God into the opposition.”

A Waterstone’s spokesperson said:

“We faced a demand from many people shortly before the event to remove the book from sale.

“It is not unusual to get a request to remove a book and our answer always is that we do not act as a censor.

“We only remove a book on the advice of the publisher. Darkness is Where the Stars Are remains on sale in our Cardiff store.

“We deemed it unwise to go ahead with a potentially disruptive event – it looked like this was going to turn into something else.

“We look at each event individually and this one was going to cause disruption to the store.”

The spokesperson said that Waterstone’s do not generally have security guards in their shops as “there are not usually public order issues” and confirmed they had received complaints from members of the public about the decision to cancel the event.

Undeterred, poet Patrick Jones signed copies outside the store.

Mr Green recently hinted that the controversial movement that encourages people to “pray away the gay” and become straight could be established in Wales.

While being interviewed by H from Steps, also known as Ian Watkins, for BBC Wales current affairs programme, Week In, Week Out, he told the gay former pop star that he could “walk away” from homosexuality.

Mr Green owes £90,000 in court fees after he was ordered to pay after his attempt to bring a prosecution against Jonathan Thoday of production company Avalon and the BBC’s Mark Thompson, for screening the acclaimed Jerry Springer: The Opera, failed last December.

In June Mark Thompson and Jonathan Thoday were awarded costs totalling £90,000 against Green, National Director of Christian Voice.

The BBC’s solicitors were awarded £55,000 and Mr Thoday’s £35,000.

Mr Green protested at both London and Brighton Pride last year.

In August he questioned the presence of racist group the National Front at Pride events, on the basis that “homosexuals are not black or Asian as a rule.”

The controversial preacher made his observation as part of his report on the group’s website about his Brighton protest, where he had to be given police protection as he and a handful of his followers displayed homophobic posters at the entrance to Preston Park.

He also complained that the NF are “copying” his idea of protesting at gay events.

“Christian Voice is a prophetic ministry in the sense that we attempt, with God’s grace, to analyse current events in the light of scripture, proclaim God’s word to those in public life and provide the information which Christians need in order to pray with the mind of God in these dark days,” the group states on its website.