The city of Liverpool, England, has decided it doesn’t need Franklin Graham’s anti-LGBTQ hate.
The conference venue ACC Liverpool, which is owned by the city government, has canceled an event featuring the homophobic preacher that was set for June 12 as part of his U.K. tour.
A spokesperson for the venue said management had recently been “made aware of a number of statements which we consider to be incompatible with our values,” the BBC reports.
“In light of this, we can no longer reconcile the balance between freedom of speech and the divisive impact this event is having in our city,” the spokesperson continued. “We have informed the organizers of the event that the booking will no longer be fulfilled. We are proud to represent all communities.” The city’s mayor and LGBTQ rights groups praised the decision.
Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, founded by his late father, has a long history of anti-LGBTQ statements. In one of the most recent, he tweeted that Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, who is both gay and Christian, should repent of the “sin” of homosexuality. In 2018, in response to the circulation of an old quote from former President Jimmy Carter saying Jesus Christ would have no problem with same-sex marriage, he said Carter was “absolutely wrong” and that God had destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because they embraced homosexuality. (That Bible passage is open to other interpretations.)
In 2016, he defended House Bill 2, legislation passed by his home state of North Carolina to prevent transgender people from using restrooms and changing rooms that match their gender identity. It “protects the safety and privacy of women and children and preserves the human rights of millions of faith-based citizens of this state,” Graham said at the time, implying that transgender people are a threat. That remark got him banned from Facebook for a brief time two years later.
He has also praised Russia’s ban on so-called gay propaganda, which prohibits any positive mention of LGBTQ identity that could be heard or viewed by minors. “I very much appreciate that President Putin is protecting Russian young people against homosexual propaganda,” Graham told a Russian newspaper in 2015. “If only to give them the opportunity to grow up and make a decision for themselves. Again, homosexuals cannot have children, they can take other people’s children.”
In addition to LGBTQ people, targets of Graham’s ire have included Planned Parenthood, which he has described as “Hitleristic,” and Islam, which he has called “evil.”
Graham is a major defender, however, of Donald Trump, even though the president is an admitted adulterer and accused sexual predator. Graham has said he believes Trump has repented and is a “changed man,” and was selected by God to lead the U.S.
In response to the cancellation of the Liverpool event, Graham posted Monday on Facebook that he was coming to the U.K. “to share the Gospel.” He reiterated that he believes the Bible defines homosexuality as a sin, and that all humans are guilty of some sin. We must “turn away from our sins,” he wrote, and accept Christ as savior if we are to avoid eternal punishment.
Graham is still scheduled to appear in seven other cities in the U.K. The board of the Scottish Events Campus will meet Wednesday to decide whether to cancel his appearance in Glasgow, The Guardian reports. Activists in Sheffield have called for his event there to be canceled as well. Other cities on his schedule are Newcastle, Milton Keynes, Cardiff, Birmingham, and London.