A British street preacher was ordered to pay a fine to a gay man he called a ‘sinner’ and ‘sodomite’ or go to jail.
Michael Overd has regularly been preaching his homophobic beliefs in town centres across the UK, but especially in his hometown of Taunton, Somerset.
When a gay man, Darren Chambers, challenged his views, they clashed.
Overd told him he was an ‘abomination’, and used the old homophobic favorite ‘God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.’
Chambers reported the incident to police, saying it left him feeling ‘ashamed’ and ‘belittled’.
Using evidence from witnesses and video footage, Overd was convicted of using threatening or abusive words likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress but cleared of the other incidents.
Appearing at Bristol Crown Court, Judge Shamin Qureshi ordered Overd to pay £250 to Chambers.
‘Can I say something? I’m going to say something,’ the preacher said.
‘I’m not paying £250 to a sodomite. God have mercy on your soul. I’m not paying a sodomite.’
The judge told Overd’s lawyer: ‘It’s 45 days straight to prison if he doesn’t pay. He cannot be selective about what he pays.’
After his counsel tried to reason with him, Overd agreed to pay the fine.
‘Your judgement is flawed and way out of line,’ he said. ‘You will answer to the same God as me.’
Overd was also ordered to pay £930 costs and a £20 victim surchage over the incident in June last year.
Judge Qureshi said all people are allowed to exercise their right to speech, but not to ‘shout, bully and berate members of the public until they convert to his branch of Christianity.’
Speaking to Western Morning News outside the court, Overd said: ‘What do you think Jesus would have said? He got told to tone it down. I follow my Lord and leader so I won’t tone it down.
‘I won’t be intimidated or threatened by anybody – a Muslim judge, a Buddhist judge, whatever judge. I will continue to preach as I am lead by God.’