A street preacher has been arrested in Wimbledon, London, for saying homosexuality is a sin.
Tony Miano, a former senior police officer from America, was taken away on Monday 1 July and locked in a cell, spending 7 hours in custody.
He was later released without charge, and has since said that “thought police” are now operating in Britain.
He said he was amazed that it was now possible “in the country that produced the Magna Carta” for people to be arrested for what they say.
Mr Miano had been preaching about “sexual immorality” from the Bible passage found in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12.
A member of the public called the police to the scene, claiming to have heard a “homophobic” remark.
He said: “The language I used was not homophobic, as I was not promoting fear or hatred of homosexuals.
“I began my message by assuring the people that mine was not a message of hate but of love.
“I was simply explaining a passage in the Bible which speaks of sexual immorality and that people should abstain from it (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12).
“I did not speak solely about homosexuality as a form of sexual immorality but also about any kind of sex outside of marriage between one man and one woman, as well as lustful thoughts.
“All of these are considered mainstream Christian positions and have been taught and believed by Christians for thousands of years.
“It was very distressing to be arrested and interrogated for openly expressing my deeply held Christian beliefs.”
While in custody, police quizzed Mr Miano in the presence of a solicitor provided by the Christian Legal Centre.
Mr Miano said: “As the questioning started it became apparent that the interrogation was about more than the incident that took place in the street but what I believed and how I think.
“I was being interrogated about my thoughts… that is the basic definition of thought police.
“It surprised me that here in the country that produced the Magna Carta that an otherwise law abiding person could lose his freedom because one person was offended by the content of my speech.”
At the end of the police interview, Mr Miano was asked whether he stood by his actions, and whether he would do it again.
He answered yes to both questions, and the police told his solicitor that his answer left them with no alternative but to seek a prosecution.
However, about an hour later, he was told he would be released without charge. He was let go at midnight.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, says Mr Miano’s arrest is warning of what may lie ahead if the Government passes its same sex marriage Bill.
She said: “If we continue on the current trajectory, Tony’s arrest will simply be the first of many.”
She added: “It’s clear that there is already a clampdown on freedom of speech where people publicly express mainstream Christian views on sexual ethics.”
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “Police were called to Wimbledon Hill Road, SW19, at approximately 16.40 on Monday, July 1, following reports of a man speaking through a public address system who was alleged to have made homophobic comments.
“Officers attended and arrested the man, aged 49, on suspicion of offences under the Public Order Act.
“He was taken to a south-west London police station and spoken to by officers before being released with no further action later the same day.”