Homophobic preacher stands by Leviticus quote in banned advert

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The leader of Sandown Free Presbyterian Church has claimed that a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority interferes with religious freedom.

The publicity-hungry Rev David McIlveen and his congregation drew attention to their church in July by posting an advert in a local newspaper.

The 540 word condemnation of homosexuality was published just before Belfast Pride in August.

The ASA ruled yesterday that the church’s advert, which called gay people perverts and called on “religious” people to publicly oppose gay rights and Pride events, broke their rules on decency.

“We considered that some of the text used in relation to homosexuality, for example, “… declaring it to be an abomination …”, “… God’s judgement upon a sin …”, “… remove the guilt of their wrongdoing …”, “… a cause for regret that a section of the community desire to be known for a perverted form of sexuality …”, went further than the majority of readers were likely to find acceptable.

“We considered that particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of sexual orientation, and concluded that this ad had caused serious offence to some readers.

“The ad should not appear again in its current form,” according to the ASA ruling.

“We told SFPC to take more care in future to avoid causing offence.”

The ad claimed Pride in Belfast “is not a welcome addition to our city, neither is it a positive celebration of a profitable lifestyle flaunting a form of sexuality that generations of men and women have righteously resisted and by gods grace will continue to resist.”

Yesterday Rev McIlveen told the Belfast Telegraph that the ASA treated their investigation as a trial.

“In an effort to show that we have breached that code they highlighted the text we used from Leviticus Ch 18 v 22,” he said.

“Our determination from that is that you can not quote scripture because it is deemed as offensive. Well, we see this as a serious offence.”

The Free Presbyterian Church was founded 56 years ago by Ian Paisley Snr, former First Minister of Northern Ireland.

It mounts a yearly counter-protest against Belfast Pride.

Last year veteran politician Paisley resigned as leader of the Church after coming under pressure from its members over gay rights issues.

The fundamentalist Christian sect were outraged that Mr Paisley and other members of his Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) ignored their objections to government financial support for Pride marches, which they called a “celebration of sodomy.”

Thousands attended gay Pride in Belfast in August, where DUP MP Iris Robinson, who is the wife of the First Minister, was mocked.

She ‘appeared’ at the event in the guise of masks carried by Pride participants.

More than 4,000 people turned out despite poor weather conditions. Thousands more watched the parade.

A float titled the ‘Iris Mobile’ joined the procession along the Belfast streets with a giant papier-mâché image of Mrs Robinson.

In July she was reported to the police after she compared homosexuality to child abuse.

She told a House of Commons committee: “There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children.

“There must be sufficient confidence that the community has the best possible protection against such perverts.”

She previously said that gays could be turned straight with psychiatric help.

Police are understood to be actively pursuing their investigation into whether she broke incitement to hatred laws with her homophobic outbursts.