I’m saying nothing:
An American street preacher who told shoppers in Glasgow that gays would go to hell has been fined £1,000.
Shawn Holes, 47, from New York state, was on a tour of the UK with colleagues when he was arrested in Glasgow city centre on March 18th.
He was charged with breaching the peace for the comments.
When asked about his views on homosexuality, Holes said: “Homosexuals are deserving of the wrath of God – and so are all other sinners – and they are going to a place called hell.”
He said that while preaching, a number of gay couples stopped to listen and asked him about his views, which he said seemed like a “set-up”.
Holes said that he admitted the charge because he wanted to get back to the US quickly to see his wife and his father, who is in a hospice.
He said he only expected to be fined around £100.
A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church told the Scotsman: “We supported [hate crime] legislation but it is very difficult to see how this man can be charged for expressing a religious conviction.
“The facts of this case show his statement was clearly his religious belief.
“Yes, it is strong language he has used, but it is obviously a religious conviction and not a form of discrimination.”
UPDATE: Peter Tatchell has just commented on this case over at Harry’s Place:
Freedom of speech must be defended… even for homophobes
The conviction and £1,000 fine imposed on a homophobic Christian street preacher in Glasgow must be condemned an attack on free speech and a heavy-handed, excessive response to homophobia. Shawn Holes, an American Baptist evangelist touring Britain, was fined £1,000 for telling passers-by in Glasgow city centre:
“Homosexuals are deserving of the wrath of God – and so are all other sinners – and they are going to a place called hell.”
In court, he admitted breaching the peace on 18 March by “uttering homophobic remarks” that were “aggravated by religious prejudice”.
Mr Holes is obviously homophobic and should not be insulting people with his anti-gay tirades. He should be challenged and people should protest against his intolerance. However, in a democratic, free society it is wrong to prosecute him. Criminalisation is not appropriate.
The price of freedom of speech is that we sometimes have to put up with opinions that are objectionable and offensive.
Just as people should have the right to criticise religion, people of faith should have the right to criticise homosexuality. Only incitements to violence should be illegal.
Mr Holes’s £1,000 fine is totally disproportionate. Even people who commit robberies and violent assaults sometimes get off with lighter penalties. This prosecution was heavy-handed and an inappropriate use of the law.
On the subject of freedom of speech, this short YouTube video of Phillip Pullman (Author of: The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ) has been popping up everywhere this morning: (Hat-Tip MediaWatchWatch)