Sheffield’s queer community makes last-ditch attempt to cancel ‘hate monger’ Franklin Graham visit

Franklin Graham talks with President Donald Trump

The LGBT+ community in Sheffield has shared an open letter in protest against the impending visit of anti-gay American hate preacher Franklin Graham, son of preacher Billy Graham.

Graham preached at Donald Trump’s inauguration, has said gay people caused a “moral 9/11” in America and has declared that gay people are “the enemy” of civilisation.

In 2016, the hate preacher accused LGBT activists of “trying to cram down America’s throat the lie that homosexuality is OK”, and claimed that anti-discrimination laws would mean that “your children, and your grandchildren will be at risk to sexual predators and perverts”.

He has also previously praised Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay laws and told crowds in Russia that homosexuals “cannot have children, they can take other people’s children”.

This summer, Graham will embark on an eight-city tour of the UK, appearing at the FlyDSA Arena Sheffield on June 6.

There has already been criticism of Graham’s event from community leaders in Sheffield, but now the city’s LGBT+ community has banded together to write an open letter in protest.

Addressed to David Grey, chairman of the Sheffield City Trust, the letter read: “Franklin Graham has repeatedly publicly promoted his homophobic beliefs including, but not limited to, branding homosexuality a ‘sin’, claiming Satan was the architect of same-sex marriage and LGBT rights, claiming gay people existing are causing a ‘moral 9/11’, declared gay people ‘the enemy’ of civilisation and advocates for the highly damaging abusive practice of gay conversion therapy.

“We believe that these statements far exceed freedom of speech and are direct hate speech… which should not be welcomed in our city, or anywhere else.”

The letter continued: “Providing a platform for such hateful ideologies is not simply a matter of freedom of speech or a difference of opinion, but will directly cause harm and increase the risk, fear and violence that LGBT+ people already face.

“We strongly urge you to reconsider your decision to allow this event to go ahead.”

The letter was signed by 22 members of Sheffields LGBT+ community, including people from the Sheffield Equality Hub Network, Sheffield Bi and Pan Social Group, the Progressive Catholic Church and the University of Sheffield.

A petition has also been started to protest Graham’s tour date at London’s O2 stadium on October 4.

The petition states: “If enough of us act quickly, we still have time to pressure the management of the O2 to cancel this hate event. They haven’t started selling tickets or promoting the event yet, but we need to act quickly.

“Let’s send a clear message to this US hate monger that he is not welcome in London or the UK!”