A Christian street preacher who was arrested for describing homosexual conduct as a sin has called for a change to the law.
Watch an interview with Dale Mcalpine
EXCLUSIVE: Arrest caught on camera
Dale Mcalpine, from Workington in Cumbria, was arrested earlier this year after he made the comment during a conversation with a police community support officer.
Mr Mcalpine, who made no mention of homosexuality during his public sermon, was arrested for using “insulting” words contrary to Section 5 of the Public Order Act.
Now in a bid to protect other Christians he has called for Christians to visit their MP and ask for the word “insulting” to be removed from the Act as part of the Coalition’s forthcoming Freedom Bill.
Describing his experience Mr Mcalpine said: “I was charged with a crime, and released on the condition that I don’t preach in a public place, not even in my church.”
He added: “I should not have been treated like this, and I don’t want other people to be treated like this either.
“That’s why I’m asking you to tell your MP that the Freedom Bill should repeal the word ‘insulting’ from Section 5 of the Public Order Act. Your action could make a big difference.”
After Mr Mcalpine was charged with a crime lawyers funded by The Christian Institute sent a letter of objection to the Crown Prosecution Service. The charges were dropped.
Mr Mcalpine is currently suing both the arresting officer and the Chief Constable of Cumbria Police for unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and unlawful interference with his right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion.
Last week two Christian hoteliers from Liverpool who were subjected to a criminal trial because of comments they made about Islam also called for the law to be reformed.
Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, who were declared innocent last December, were prosecuted under Section 5 of the Public Order Act after a female Muslim guest complained that she had been offended by the couple’s comments.
Speaking last week Mrs Vogelenzang said: “As Christians we should help each other. We want to help people by making sure that this can’t happen again to anyone else.
“That’s why we are asking you to tell your MP that the Freedom Bill should repeal the word ‘insulting’ from Section 5 of the Public Order Act.”
A number of other groups are also calling for the word “insulting” to be removed from Section 5.
Justice, a civil liberties organisation, has argued that Section 5 is an “extremely broad offence” and that removing the word insulting “would go some way to prevent the overuse of this power in the context of protests and demonstrations”.
Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights has also called for the removal of the word “insulting”, expressing concern that it was being used to restrain freedom of speech.
The Liberal Democrats manifesto promised that the Party would: “Restore the right to protest by reforming the Public Order Act to safeguard non-violent protest even if it offends”.
In 2009 Conservative MP Dominic Grieve, now Attorney General, said he was “sympathetic” to the idea of repealing the word “insulting” from the Public Order Act.
Ed Miliband, the new leader of the Labour Party, has admitted that the former Labour Government went too far in restricting civil liberties.