Anti-gay evangelist pays for ‘God says no to homosexuality’ billboard, causing outrage

A billboard – believed to have been paid for by an anti-gay evangelist – outside Chatham-Kent, Ontario, has caused a petition calling for the local mayor to condemn it.

A petition created in response to the billboard, which includes the phrase: “God says no to homosexuality & abortion,” has gathered more than 1,300 signatures.

It urges Randy Hope, mayor of Chatham-Kent, to denounce the billboard.

Although mayor of Chatham-Kent Randy Hope has said he will not take down the billboard, the official Twitter account for the municipality posted a statement saying the town is “an open and welcoming community.” (MunicCK/Twitter)

The petition criticises Hope for telling Blackburn News he would not “take away anybody’s right to express their viewpoint,” following the installation of the billboard.

“Who am I to say what is defamatory or demeaning. That’s not my jurisdiction,” Hope added.

The petition, called “Tell Randy Hope to condemn the hateful billboard,” states: “We are calling on Randy Hope to condemn the content on this billboard.

“Instead of taking the opportunity to condemn this billboard he decided to push back against detractors on social media who questioned the timing of an economic announcement during an election campaign.”

Despite Hope’s comments in the press, the official Twitter account for the municipality of Chatham-Kent posted on Friday (August 24): “We have received concerns from citizens regarding language on a billboard located in our community.

“We acknowledge this sign may cast a negative light on the community and are looking into this matter further. We wish to reiterate that we are an open and welcoming community.”

Marianne Willson, head of the Chatham-Kent Gay Pride group, has criticised the billboard’s messages. (Marianne Willson/Facebook)

The billboard also contains a number of other messages, including: “Bibles back in schools,” “marijuana or peace with God!,” and: “A ship without a rudder is tossed to & fro.”

Marianne Willson, head of the Chatham-Kent Gay Pride group, told CBC that the billboard “attacks the very soul of Chatham-Kent.”

She added that she does not believe that the billboard’s phrases represent the views of the local area.

“Everybody has expressed disgust at the message,” she told CBC. “People are concerned about the image it gives to outside communities.”