Blackpool Council is fined £109,000 for 'religious discrimination'

Blackpool Council is fined £109,000 for ‘religious discrimination’ after it removed posters for Christian festival following LGBT social media campaign over organiser’s views on same-sex marriage

  • Evangelist Franklin Graham made stop in Blackpool for Christian event in 2018
  • His association placed posters on buses for the ‘Lancashire Festival of Hope’
  • But his views against same-sex marriage and homosexuality drew criticism
  • Blackpool council later removed Graham’s ‘Time for Hope’ advertisements
  • But a Manchester court ruled move ‘breached human rights’ and ordered council to pay £109,000 in damages

A council has publicly apologised after it was fined for ‘breaching human rights’ by removing bus adverts for an evangelical Christian event.

Blackpool borough council and its transportation provider ‘discriminated on the ground of religion’ by taking down posters promoting a 2018 event with evangelist Franklin Graham.

Mr Graham, the son of the late American evangelist Billy Graham, is known for his controversial views on same-sex marriage and Islam.

Ahead of an event at the town’s Winter Gardens, the council removed advertisements that read ‘Lancashire Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham – Time for Hope’.

Blackpool borough council has been fined £109,000 after it ‘discriminated on the ground of religion’ by taking down posters promoting a 2018 event with evangelist Franklin Graham

They had initially them but changed their position after a social media campaign against Mr Graham’s ‘offensive’ opposition to same-sex marriage.

But in April, a Manchester County Court judge ruled removing the ads was a ‘breach of human rights’ on the  Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which organised the festival.

The association received £109,000 in damages from the council, who were also ordered to make a public apology.

‘We accept the findings of the Court that we discriminated against Lancashire Festival of Hope because of the religious beliefs of Franklin Graham and in doing so interfered with Lancashire Festival of Hope’s right to freedom of speech,’ the council said in a statement.

Franklin Graham, the son of the late American evangelist Billy Graham, was hosting an event at the town’s Winter Gardens. But following backlash, the council removed advertisements that read ‘Lancashire Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham – Time for Hope’

When asked about his views, Mr Graham he believes ‘marriage is for a man and a woman and that is what the Bible teaches us’, adding same-sex weddings were a ‘sin’. Pictured: Mr Graham talks with President Donald Trump

‘We sincerely apologise to the organisers of the event for the upset and inconvenience caused.’

Mr Graham, who runs the association set up by his father, who died in 2018, has previously called homosexuality ‘a sin’ and has spoken against same-sex marriage, which was legalised in every US state in a historic decision by the Supreme Court in 2015.

When asked about his views, Mr Graham told the BBC he believes ‘marriage is for a man and a woman and that is what the Bible teaches us’, adding same-sex weddings were a ‘sin’.

‘If we don’t repent and turn from our sins then we are doomed.’

The bus adverts did not mention Mr Graham’s ardent opposition to same-sex marriage or homosexuality, instead calling for a ‘Time for hope’. 

In a statement this week, Franklin Graham said: ‘This is an important moment for religious freedom in the UK.

‘We’re grateful to God for the final outcome of this case, and for what it will mean for churches and Christians across the UK in the years ahead.’ 

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