Dr. Alan Clifford, Minister of Norwich Reformed Church in Norwich, England, was interviewed at his home yesterday by a Police Constable from Norfolk Constabulary, following a complaint made to Police by the Chairman/woman of Norwich “Gay” Pride.
Dr.Clifford had sent an e-mail to editors and others, including Norfolk LGBT Project, which consisted of a report of a Christian witness against Norwich “Gay” Pride which took place on 27th July this year (see our earlier post about this witness, which we entitled, “When the Saints go marching in (Norwich.)
The e-mail had two attached leaflets entitled, “Christ Can Cure – Good News for Gays” and “Jesus Christ – the Saviour we all need.”
The complaint against Dr.Clifford centres on these two leaflets which some homosexuals found “offensive.”
The Police Officer told the Pastor that there was reason to believe that he was chargeable with a “homophobic” incident. He was asked if he was aware that he’d committed a “homophobic” offence (as defined by the Police leaflet presented to the Pastor by the Officer.)
The Pastor (rightly) rejected the accusation, and stated that he and his fellow Christians who witnessed against the Gay Pride parade were perfectly within the law regarding their criticism of homosexuality. He then quoted the ruling/judgement by the European Court of Human Rights in Handyside v UK (1976) which made it clear that freedom of expression embraces not only information and ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also, “…those that offend, shock or disturb the state or any sector of the population. Such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no democratic society.”
Dr.Clifford further quoted the words of Lord Justice Sedley in Redmond Bate v DPP (2000), “Free speech includes not only the inoffensive, but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and provocative provided that it does not tend to violence. Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.”
The Police Officer informed the Pastor that, a complaint having been made, he now had two options.
1. Admit he had done wrong, and pay an on-the-spot fine of £90-00.
2.Produce a signed statement in defence of his actions.
Dr.Clifford courageously chose the latter. Magnificent!
He was further questioned and informed that a senior Officer would decide if the complaint is sent to the Crown Prosecution Service. A decision should be made in about a week’s time.