UK: Cafe owner accuses gay campaigners of targeting him for a 2nd time over Uganda trip

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A cafe owner who denies accusations of homophobia, having attended an event in Uganda where there were anti-gay speakers present, claims to have closed his cafe for a second time, fearing further protests about his initial decision.

Paul Shinners, the managing director of Cornerstone Cafe in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, said his staff were too scared to open the cafe, and lost out on business because of the protests planned.

Other reports, however, suggested that the protest was moved, because of an unexpected amount of support, to the town’s market square, and didn’t take place outside the cafe at all.

The protest, organised by residents of St Neots, who set up a Facebook group, said it was to be a peaceful demonstration “about the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill in Uganda” and ”NOT about Mr Shinners or the Cornerstone Cafe”.

The owner of the Christian bookshop previously denied claims that he is homophobic, and that he attended an anti-gay rally.

Mr Shinners was accused of supporting draft legislation in Uganda which would make homosexuality punishable by death.

Returning to the UK on Tuesday, as he wasn’t able to before, he said his staff didn’t want to open the cafe because of the protest. He said: “The damage has already been done.

“Staff didn’t want to open the shop on Saturday for obvious reasons. It has only been open for a limited time during the week, so sadly it has had an impact on the business and there is nothing I can do about it.”

The allegations of homophobia came after he spoke at the annual National Day and Night of Prayer at the Nakivubo Stadium in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.

The Daily Monitor quoted “Rev Paul Schinners” as saying: “There is no other nation world over that has such a plan and through this, Uganda is going to be blessed.”

He denied knowing about the anti-gay legislation in Uganda, and said: “I have spoken at the National Day of Prayer before – it is not an anti-gay rally, it is a Christian event. I preached a message from the gospel of Jesus about not condemning people. I preached the gospel of John, about throwing stones…”

Mr Shinners had said that he found it difficult to defend himself against the allegations from Uganda, because he had intermittent internet access, and couldn’t afford a ticket to return home early. He was confident in defending himself, however, and said that he was not homophobic.

He said: “The truth always comes out in the end.”

During the Day and Night of prayer, Pastor Joseph Sserwadda of the Victory Christian Church said: “I am hoping that as parliament resumes this February, the first thing tabled [is] the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.”