A Christian street preacher was found guilty of using “threatening” language by quoting the Bible when speaking about homosexuality on the streets of Taunton in June last year.
Former paratrooper Mike Overd was convicted under section 5 of the Public Order Act, which concerns causing harassment, alarm or distress by using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.
The judge at Bristol Crown Court told him that he should not have used the particular verse in the Bible – Leviticus 20:13 – because it uses the word “abomination”. The judge suggested that there were other verses he could have chosen if he wanted to talk about what the Bible says about homosexuality.
Libby Towell, spokesperson for the Christian Legal Centre, who represented Overd, said: “The judge is effectively censoring the Bible and saying that certain verses aren’t fit for public consumption.”
Overd was given a fine of £200, and told to pay £1,200 in costs and compensation. This included a sum for the emotional harm caused to the homosexual man, who is also a Christian, to whom he was speaking when he quoted Leviticus.
He was, however, acquitted of a second charge with regard to comments he made about the prophet Mohammed in a separate incident in July 2014. When talking about religious leaders, Overd said that you could not compare Mohammed with Jesus – adding that if a man marries a nine-year-old girl, “In this country we call that paedophilia”