UK urged to deny entry to pro-Trump preacher who claims gay people ‘steal children’

Franklin Graham talks with President Donald Trump

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid has been urged to block a visit from a US preacher who claims that gay people ‘steal children.’

Franklin Graham, the head of Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse, and the son of evangelical preacher Billy Graham, is set to visit the UK this weekend to attend the Lancashire Festival of Hope event in Blackpool.

His presence has been sharply criticised by local figures due to Graham’s archaic views.

Franklin Graham (Stephen Chernin/Getty)

Graham, who has close ties to the Trump administration and preached at his inauguration, has previously praised Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay laws and told crowds in Russia that homosexuals “take people’s children.”

He has also claimed there had been a “moral 9/11” in America due to homosexuals  and has declared that gay people are “the enemy” of civilisation.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden raised Graham’s views in a letter to Javid, warning his public comments are incompatible with UK hate speech laws.

In a letter shared with the Blackpool Gazette, the Labour MP said: “I have had a number of constituents, including local clergy and other faith leaders, who were alarmed and appalled by the derogatory and inflammatory views that Franklin Graham has expressed towards Muslims, members of the LGBT community and others.

“Blackpool welcomes every year millions of visitors of all faiths and none, as well as diverse families, members of the LGBT community and many different nationalities. Our residential community is similarly diverse.

“I’m therefore asking the Home Secretary to urgently consider stopping any further escalation of tension and hurt towards the groups he continues to attack in his preaching by barring his ability to speak at the Winter Gardens.”

Preacher Franklin Graham (LOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty)

The Home Office does not publicly confirm whether people are banned from entering the UK, though Graham continues to promote his trip on social media, suggesting he believes it will go ahead.

Bus ads for the event were previously scrapped after complaints about the preacher’s views.

After Blackpool Transport was made aware of his extreme beliefs, the company confirmed that they would be removing ads for his event.

public statement from the company said: “Blackpool Transport has recently been made aware of an advert in place on the side of some of our double-decker buses.

“In light of customer feedback and reactions on social media which has resulted in heightened tension, we have taken the decision to remove all adverts relating to the ‘Festival of Hope’ event with immediate effect.

“We will reimburse any income back to the advertising company.

“We work with multiple advertisers and third-parties and in no way do we endorse or support any advertisement which is placed on our vehicles.”

Conservative MP Paul Maynard, a minister at the Department of Transport, also previously called for Franklin to be banned from entering the country.

Afzal Khan, a Labour MP who has worked for the Home Office on race relations and preventing extremism, expressed concerns to the Guardian about Graham stoking division.

“His views are not welcome, and I will make representation to the home secretary if it looks like he is intent on coming,” said Khan.

In a public statement, Graham insisted: “My message will be the simple Gospel message: a timeless message of God’s hope, love and redemption for all people. If anyone is searching for answers, wondering if their life has meaning and questioning if they are loved, I will have good news to share.”

Yet in recent days Graham has publicly claimed drag queens are promoting “sexual perversion” to children, and claimed that sexual assault allegations levelled against US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh do not matter.