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London street preacher alleges 14 police officers confronted him for 'homophobic language'

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A union flag is seen near the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain April 18, 2017. |

A West London street preacher alleges 14 police officers confronted him on Aug. 20 while preaching in Uxbridge because they claimed to have received multiple complaints from pedestrians about "homophobic language." 

Rev. Peter Simpson, the minister of Penn Free Methodist Church, Buckinghamshire, wrote a post published by The Conservative Woman blog this week in which he said that the officers approached him on High Street to ask him to stop preaching.

The encounter happened after he finished sharing for about 20 minutes aloud in the streets about the "immorality of abortion" and about "the biblical teaching that marriage can be only between one man and one woman."

Simpson said he shared Bible texts in the neighborhood where he stood, which included the verse in Romans 3:23: "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." He also referred to "the sinful hearts of all men."

"I made a brief reference," he said, alleging that what started as two cops became 14 who approached him. "[They] came up to me and said that 'multiple complaints' had been received about 'hate speech.'" 

Simpson claimed that the police officers gave him the impression that he would be arrested if he refused to stop preaching and remove himself from the premises. 

"I reluctantly complied," Simson said. "I suggested to one of the officers that they were acting as judge and jury, rather than trying to make inquiries."

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement that officers "received complaints that a man preaching at the location was using homophobic language."

"Officers attended, spoke to the man and gave words of advice," the spokesperson told Christian Today. "No arrests were made."

Simpson was reportedly present when Met officers also arrested another street preacher, Rev. John Sherwood, in April for preaching outside of the Uxbridge subway station on the topic of Genesis 1. 

Sherwood allegedly said God designed families to have a mother and a father, not two of the same gender. 

"I responded that the police would have no objection whatsoever to a Pride parade being held in Uxbridge, yet that would be highly offensive to Bible-believing Christians," Simpson wrote in a blog for The Conservative Woman. "The officer did not appear to appreciate the logic behind this argument."

Sherwood's arrest transpired on suspicion of an offense under Section 5 of the Public Order Act for "allegedly making homophobic comments," according to the Met. 

Sherwood's case was later sent to Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after being released with no charge following an overnight stay in a police station. 

The Christian Legal Centre is representing Sherwood, and the CPS has until October to decide if he will be prosecuted or not. The legal center has reported that the decision will be released soon. 

There have been other reported cases of Christian preachers being confronted in England.

Christian preacher and lay minister Mike Overd was confronted by police from Avon and Somerset in April. He is believed to be the first Christian preacher to be prosecuted for violating COVID-19 regulations banning outdoor gatherings.

In defense of Overd, the Christian Legal Centre said the preacher was carrying out his work as a minister by "offering pastoral support" for those struggling during the pandemic while remaining separated from pedestrians by over 2 yards (2 meters). 

Overd was also asked to leave the premises for his preaching and was fined $83 (£60). 

Crown Prosecution Service later dropped Overd's case. 

On July 22, Ryan Schiavo, who identifies as an "evangelist and missionary," was arrested in London for preaching that "homosexuality is a sin."

 "I was preaching the Gospel on the streets as I frequently do, but it was about a 30-minute message, and in the course of a long message I can touch on many topics that I believe are pertinent," he told The Christian Post in an interview. "At one point, I talked about the issue of homosexuality and transgenderism. I said that homosexuality is a sin; I talk about how it's destructive, and the damage the transgender agenda is doing to children right now in the schools because it's being pushed on children at a very young age here."

He also told CP that he preached in the streets the message that "the churches that have rainbow flags on them" were "not real churches."

Schiavo was arrested and given a mental health evaluation. He was later released.

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