Glasgow & West Scotland

Franklin Graham's Glasgow event axed after council pressure

Franklin Graham Image copyright Getty Images

A US evangelist's event in Glasgow has been cancelled following pressure from the council and religious groups.

Franklin Graham, the eldest son of late preacher Billy Graham, said he believes homosexuality is a "sin".

A petition was launched calling for the event at the Hydro on 30 May to be scrapped - organisers reconsidered following "recent adverse publicity".

Mr Graham denied promoting hateful speech after his events in Liverpool and Sheffield were cancelled this week.

His visit to Glasgow was part of an eight-city tour of the UK.

The Scottish Event Campus (SEC) said it had "reviewed the event" with partners and shareholders - Glasgow City Council is the organisation's majority shareholder.

An SEC spokesperson said: "The booking for this event was processed in the same way we would for any religious concert of this nature and as a business we remain impartial to the individual beliefs of both our clients and visitors.

"Following a request from our principal shareholder the matter has been considered and a decision made that we should not host this event."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Franklin Graham (right with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump) is a prominent Christian leader in the US

Council leader Susan Aitken told the Glasgow Times. she hoped the SEC could accept that "it would not be appropriate" for the event to go ahead.

She said: "The reporting of the ways in which Mr Graham expresses his views makes clear that this is not simply about offence or disagreement. Neither is it a debate about free speech.

"How he expresses his views could, I believe, fundamentally breach the council's statutory equalities duties."

Earlier this week the Reverend Bryan Kerr, a Church of Scotland minister in Lanark, launched a petition to pressure the SEC to rethink Mr Graham's appearance.

Backed by Glasgow's LGBT+ Interfaith Network, it said Mr Graham's views were "not mainstream" and did not "sit comfortably with many Christians in Scotland".

Mr Kerr said: "As the Bishop of Sheffield recently said 'Mr Graham's rhetoric is repeatedly and unnecessarily inflammatory and in my opinion represents a risk to the social cohesion of our city.'

"The same is true for Glasgow and Scotland as a whole."

It followed a previous petition, signed by 8,000 people, to prevent him from entering the UK.

Mr Graham has been criticised for claiming that marriage should be between a man and woman, as well as comments made about followers of Islam.

He said: "It is said by some that I am coming to the UK to bring hateful speech to your community. This is just not true. I am coming to share the Gospel.

"The rub, I think, comes in whether God defines homosexuality as sin. The answer is yes. But God goes even further than that, to say that we are all sinners - myself included.

"I'm not coming to the UK to speak against anybody, I'm coming to speak for everybody. You are absolutely welcome."

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