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Christian Concern
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Christian Concern
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Street preacher arrested for 'misgendering' to appeal sentence

by Premier Journalist

The first street preacher to be arrested and reported to counter-terrorism, accused of “misgendering” when preaching his Christian beliefs regarding gender theory, is appealing his sentence.

Born-again Christian David McConnell was reported to Prevent – the Government’s anti-terrorism watchdog – by the Probation Service after being arrested in Leeds.

During his visit on the 8th of June, 2021, McConnell was asked whether God accepted the LGBT+ community by a transgender person that identifies as a woman.

McConnell responded: "No, God hates sin,” and referred to the individual as a “gentleman”.

A person in the crowd responded to the “misgendering,” prompting McConnell to, once again, refer to the individual as a man, and shortly after: “a man in woman’s clothes”.

The interaction was captured on video, as members of the crowd repeatedly berated McConnell. It’s believed people started to steal his personal belongings in response, including his amplifier.

The crowd are also seen verbally abusing the preacher.

Once police arrived on the scene, an officer began to discuss a potential interview at the police station on a later date, to gather information about what had happened.

McConnell continued to refer to the initial individual as a man, resulting in police arresting him on the spot, under section 4A Public Order Act 1986, in order to “prevent further harm to others”. He was held in custody for 14 hours before being charged and released.

He was then reported to Prevent, who found no intervention was needed.

At the Magistrates Court, he was convicted by the local district judge and was sentenced at a hearing in August 2022 to a 12-month community order, involving humiliating community service with 80 hours unpaid work, and fined.

Commenting on the case, Elizabeth Wright, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: "People have the right to hold opinions and express their views. But when words cross the line between a legitimate expression of religious views, and become distressing and threatening, the CPS will prosecute offenders if our legal test is met."

McConnell will appeal the sentence at Leeds Crown Court on the 9th and 10th of March. Like with his initial trial, the preacher will be represented by the Christian Legal Centre.

Ahead of the hearing, Mr McConnell said: “What has happened to me has been Orwellian and really alarming. When I was told I had been reported to counter-terrorism I just thought: ‘What has happened to this country?’

“How I have been treated has been totally unreasonable and should concern anyone who cares about Christian freedoms and free speech in this country. 

“Jesus told Christians to expect persecution, however, and I am determined to continue my ministry as while there is always opposition, I also see many people positively impacted.”

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