Christian street preacher fined over homophobic sermons

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A Christian preacher has been convicted of delivering homophobic sermons in the middle of the high street, and ordered to pay a fine.

Michael Overd, from Creech St Michael, has been convicted of delivering homophobic sermons on Taunton high street in Somerset following remarks he made last summer.

He was cleared of a second similar charge as well as another for causing “racially-aggravated” harassment targeting Muslims.

Overd was fined £200 and ordered to pay compensation and costs totalling £1,200 at Bristol Crown Court.

Sentencing him, Judge Shamim Qureshi said that “he knew full well the power of words to hurt”.

When ordered to pay £250 to his victim he initially refused  – until told he would face a 45-day prison sentence if he did not.

Agreeing to pay, Overd told the judge that the judgement was “flawed” and that he would have to “answer to the same god”.

Judge Qureshi told the preacher he seemed to enjoy testing the laws on free speech to their limits.

He went on to say that Overd has “double standards”, believing he was right and everyone else was wrong.

Overd told ITV he does not intend to tone down his sermons, saying: “I’m going to go straight back now and preach.”

The preacher has received unlikely support – from the National Secular Society.

NSS president Terry Sanderson said: “Whilst we all want to encourage public civility, there is a higher principle at stake. As long as there is no incitement to violence, then people should be allowed to speak freely without fearing legal repercussions.”

A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said: “We respect the judgement of the court.

“This doesn’t mean street preaching is prohibited in Taunton or anywhere else in Avon and Somerset, but preachers need to be mindful of the words they use and the manner in which they are said.”