UK Christian street preacher acquitted of harassing gay couple

A court in the United Kingdom has acquitted a Christian street preacher who was charged with harassing a same-sex couple in March. He had quoted the Bible when he spoke to them about homosexuality at the time.

(REUTERS / Mike Blake)A gay couple holds hands during a rally in support of the United States Supreme Court decision on marriage rights in San Diego, California June 26, 2013.

According to the Christian Legal Centre, Andrew Frost quoted Luke 13:1-5 and Matthew 15:19 when he struck a conversation about homosexuality with two men who were holding hands and passing by the streets of Nottingham city centre. The same-sex couple accused the Christian street preacher of verbal abuse and of making lewd comments, the Christian Broadcasting Network detailed.

"I do what I do because I'm moved by the love of God to go out into the streets and preach to people," the CLC quoted Frost as saying. "I wanted these men to know the truth, that Jesus can set them free. Because in the sight of God, these things are wrong."

After Frost was acquitted of the harassment charge, he expressed gratitude for the judge's decision. He also emphasized the need for Christians to have the freedom to talk about the Gospel "to anyone who will listen" because this is what the Bible tells them to do.

Frost's acquittal comes less than a month after two street preachers who were convicted of creating religiously aggravated public disorder won an appeal against their case in the Bristol Crown Court. A mob of around 100 people had gathered around Michael Overd and Michael Stockwell and tried to disconnect their microphones while telling them to "go home," The Bristol Post reported.

At the end of the hearing, Judge Martin Picton and two other magistrates in the hearing concluded that there was no evidence that Overd and Stockwell showed hostility to people from another faith. They also concluded that Stockwell was merely expressing his sincerely held religious beliefs. The two street preachers rejoiced with their supporters over the outcome of their appeal.

Overd and Stockwell were previously fined more than 2,000 pound sterlings each after they were convicted, but the latest development puts an end to the penalties imposed on them.