Street preacher who waged ‘distressing attack’ on trans woman found guilty of harassment

A pedestrianised street in the middle of Briggate, Leeds.

A Christian preacher has been sentenced to 12 months of community service after harassing a trans woman on the street.

David McConnell was found guilty of harassment after using a microphone to preach anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments in the centre of Briggate, Leeds.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard on Friday (2 September) how the victim filmed McConnell preaching that “adulterers, drunkards, and homosexuals shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven”.

After challenging the trans women on whether God accepts members of the LGBT community, 41-year-old McConnell reportedly yelled into the microphone that God hated sin and that homosexuality was an “abomination in the eyes of God”.

He then began to harass the victim’s choice of clothing, calling her a “gentleman” and a “man in woman’s clothing” in front of the gathered crowd. The victim later said this was incredibly distressing for her as she was essentially outed against her will.

Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Wright told the Telegraph & Argus: “People have the right to hold opinions and express their views. But when words cross the line between a legitimate expression of religious views and becoming distressing and threatening, the CPS will prosecute offenders if our legal test is met.

“By repeatedly referring to the female victim as ‘this gentleman’ and ‘a man in woman’s clothing’ [while] using a microphone in a public place, McConnell’s comments crossed the line between [the] legitimate expression of his religious views, to become a distressing and threatening personal attack.”

McConnell’s 12-month community order includes 80 hours of unpaid labour, as well as a collective charge of around £700, which includes £620 of CPS costs and a £95 surcharge to fund victim services.

The story is reminiscent of an incident in Leeds in July 2021, when a defiant couple shared a kiss in front of an anti-LGBTQ+ preacher as he yelled at them to “turn from your wicked ways”.

Video footage shared on LeedsLive showed the preacher urging pedestrians to “put your trust in God”. After a short while, a defiant crowd of pro-LGBTQ+ activists formed to shun the preacher for his “hateful” speech, with one person yelling: “God thinks you need to crawl back into whatever hole you came out of and go back into it, my dear.”

But the preacher didn’t hold back, continuing to lambast street walkers and telling them to “repent”.

“You can scoff [at] me, you can persecute me, you can pull me down, you can break me,” he said. “If you humble yourself and repent and put your trust in Jesus Christ, you shall be saved.”

As he continued to spew random buzzwords in an attempt to make some sort of sense, two women stood in the crowd and staged an impromptu kiss to supportive cheers from the crowd that drowned out the preacher’s toxic message.