Police criticised for preacher arrest

POLICE officers must be told that preachers speaking on homosexuality are not acting unlawfully, a Christian group is demanding. The Christian Legal Centre (CLC) has written to the Metropolitan Police following the arrest of a speaker in Wimbledon this month for suggesting that homosexual practice is sinful. Tony Miano was reported to police after preaching on 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 on the need to abstain from sexual immorality when a passer-by reported him to the police for a homophobic offence, and he was questioned for 7 hours. But the CLC argues: ‘The questioning is unlawful as intrusive to “private life” within Article 8 of the European Convention; and to the “forum internum” within Article 9 of the Convention: Smith & Grady v United Kingdom (1999).’ From the transcript it appears as though the officers are convinced that if someone perceives there to have been a ‘homophobic incident’ then they believe an offence has occurred and therefore the speaker can be arrested. ‘We remain of the view that no reasonable police officer would arrest a Christian for preaching a Bible message in the circumstances of this case, nor pursue such an offensive line of questioning.’