Franklin Graham Wins British Bus Ad Censorship Suit

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Evangelist’s LGBT views are protected by UK Equality Act, court rules.

Franklin Graham’s British bus signs seemed innocuous. They said, “Lancashire Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham—Time for Hope.”

But the message, the messenger, and his history of controversial statements about homosexuality sent the seaside resort town of Blackpool into turmoil in 2018, as elected officials and administrators rushed to find a way to remove the advertisements from public transportation.

“Clearly this chap cannot be allowed a stage to promote this venom,” wrote one city official an email to the council. Another called the evangelist and the president of Samaritan’s Purse a “bile spewing preacher.” A third official didn’t know who Graham was, but looked him up on the internet and said she was “a bit shocked” at things Graham had said about LGBT people on Fox News.

The town removed the Festival of Hope signs just 24 hours after they went up on city buses, citing “heightened tension” and complaints from local residents.

Now, more than two years later, a British court has ruled that was an act of religious discrimination. Graham’s name and record of controversial statements might be offensive to some in Blackpool, according to Judge Claire Evans, but the town was wrong to censor him. The bus sign was protected by the British Equality Act of 2010 and the European Convention on Human Rights.

“All religions and beliefs are characteristics protected by law,” Evans wrote in a 35-page decision handed down last week. “The domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights have consistently affirmed that a pluralistic tolerant society allows for the expression of many different and sometimes diametrically opposed …

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