A Scottish church is suing Edinburgh City Council after being told it couldn’t host an American pastor who had labelled homosexuality "not normal behaviour".
Destiny Church is suing the council on the grounds of freedom of expression and freedom of religion after its planned three-day Surge Conference was unexpectedly cancelled.
The cancellation came after the council received complaints about one of the conference’s speakers, the Louisiana-based preacher Larry Stockstill.
Pastor Stockstill had made the anti-gay claim in his 2007 book, He Teaches My Hands To War, writing: “Don’t be deceived. Homosexuality is not normal behaviour and it is not accepted by God.”
Explaining the decision to bring legal action against the council, a church spokesperson is reported by The Scotsman as saying: "We understand that this is a fairly clear-cut breach of the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the freedom of expression, enshrined in ECHR.
"Under the Equality Act 2010, the City of Edinburgh Council is also discriminating on the grounds of religious belief.
"We organised an event, which we are free to do, at which speakers will express their religious views, as they are free to do.
"It is unlawful for the City of Edinburgh to cancel an event because it determines that the views previously expressed by a speaker are not acceptable."
A spokesperson for the council said: “The Destiny Church event at the Usher Hall was cancelled due to the keynote speaker’s publicly stated views about same-sex relationships, which are, in the council’s opinion, offensive and discriminatory.
"We are committed to promoting diversity and equal rights for all. The proposed event did not meet the standards which we expect from those hiring and visiting our venues to respect and observe and the booking was therefore cancelled.
“The council is mindful of the need to protect freedom of speech, but will not allow its venues to be used as a platform for speakers who discriminate against particular sections of society.
“The council will vigorously defend its position in order to protect and promote diversity and equal rights for all.”
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