Franklin Graham has invited the UK LGBTQ community to come and hear him preach as he denied that he was bringing a “hateful” message to the country in an upcoming tour.
Liverpool ACC has cancelled his forthcoming tour stop and London’s O2 told Newsweek that it would not host his event.
A spokesperson for the ACC said it had been “made aware of a number of statements” by Graham “which we consider to be incompatible with our values.”
“In light of this, we can no longer reconcile the balance between freedom of speech and the divisive impact this event is having in our city,” the spokesperson told the BBC in a statement.
They added: “We have informed the organizers of the event that the booking will no longer be fulfilled.”
A representative for the O2 toldNewsweek that it had never entered into an agreement with Graham to host an event there.
A petition calling on the O2 to refuse to host Graham’s London event has been signed by over 8,000 people.
The creator of the petition claimed that Graham “travels around the world telling tens of thousands of people that Satan runs the LGBT+ movement”.
People were invited to sign the petition to “send a clear message to this US hate monger that he is not welcome in London or the UK.”
“He persuades audiences that LGBT+ people don’t deserve to have families,” they said.
“He stands on stages in huge arenas warning people of the consequences of being gay, threatening impressionable young people with the ‘flames of hell’.
“In short, he spends a lot of time and money telling the world that our love is a sin and encouraging those who want to hurt us.”
In a statement on Facebook, Graham – son of the late evangelist Billy Graham – denied that his message was one of hate.
“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, which is the Good News that God loves the people of the UK, and that Jesus Christ came to this earth to save us from our sins,” he said.
“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.”
He continued: “My message to all people is that they can be forgiven and they can have a right relationship with God. That’s Good News. That is the hope people on every continent around the world are searching for.
“In the UK as well as in the United States, we have religious freedom and freedom of speech. I’m not coming to the UK to speak against anybody, I’m coming to speak for everybody. The Gospel is inclusive. I’m not coming out of hate, I’m coming out of love.
“I invite everyone in the LGBTQ community to come and hear for yourselves the Gospel messages that I will be bringing from God’s Word, the Bible. You are absolutely welcome.”