A Christian preacher accused of calling two gay men 'sinners' and telling them they will 'burn in hell' has been cleared of all charges.
Michael Overd, from Creech St Michael in Taunton, faced two charges of using threatening words or behaviour towards Craig Manning and Craig Nichol in the UK town's high street last July.
But the 47-year-old, who argued he was using his freedom of speech to air his beliefs, has been cleared of verbally abusing the couple at Taunton Magistrates Court today.
The couple believed they had been deliberately targeted by Overd after a previous altercation in 2010, when they walked past him holding hands.
But the preacher claimed the couple threatened violence against him when they saw him on 16 July last year.
Speaking after the end of the trial, Mr Overd said 'something is wrong' when 'Abu Qatada can preach about Jihad and death to the Jews but the police arrest me, a Christian preacher who cares deeply for Jesus Christ and the people of Taunton'.
'This is a case that should never have been brought. Christians like me are being harassed,' he said, The Huffington Post reported.
Overd added: 'Thankfully, the magistrates saw the truth of what happened and is happening on a wider scale in out country.
'Something has to change and I hope my case will encourage others not to be scared to speak up for Christ.'
Manning, 36, said he and his partner, 24, may appeal to the European court of Human Rights.
'We tried to stand up for our human and gay rights and we have been let down,' he said.
'We do not have a problem with the words of the Bible being preached, it was the manner in which he was preaching, trying to make an example of us in the middle of the high street.'