UK: Preacher who said gay man was a ‘sinner’ goes on trial

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A Christian preacher accused of making homophobic remarks while giving a sermon has denied the charges in court.

Michael Overd is alleged to have made “belligerent and angry” remarks over a loudspeaker system set up in Taunton High Street in June and July last year.

The Somerset Country Gazette reports witness Darren Chalmers, who described himself as an “openly gay Christian”, told Taunton Magistrates’ Court that Mr Overd’s sermons left him “belittled and ashamed”.

“I felt so ashamed by the comments, that I was a sinner, that God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

“He said I needed to repent my sins.

“I felt belittled. I am a gay Christian and I am accepted by my church and I am accepted for who I am.

“I approached him and said this and then after expressing my views I walked away.

“I didn’t want to be victimised for being an openly gay Christian.”

Michael Phillips, defending, cross-examined the witness and asked him about freedom of speech.

He said: “Freedom of speech entitles someone to say what is offensive to people, would you not agree?”

Mr Chalmers replied that he didn’t want to be victimised by another person for being gay.

A second witness, Nigel Marley, described Mr Overd’s tone during his speech as “belligerent and angry”.

The third witness, Shelley Cunningham, described Mr Overd’s style as “ranting” and said she heard him make defamatory comments about the Prophet Muhammad.

She said: “There was no mention of good of the faith [Islam], no mention of repenting, they were all going to hell.

“I could see quite a crowd gathering, people were getting really het up, frustrated.”

Mr Overd denies three counts of religious aggravation of the Public Order Act, with threatening or abusive behaviour.

The trial is expected to conclude on Thursday.

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