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ICC Wales cancels appearance of American preacher Franklin Graham who called homosexuality 'a sin'

Franklin Graham was booked to speak at the International Convention Centre Wales in Newport but the event has since been cancelled

Part Welsh-Government funded ICC Wales has come under fire over an event featuring a controversial US evangelist.

Franklin Graham, the eldest son of American preacher Billy Graham, has spoken widely of his view that homosexuality is a “sin” and was booked to speak at the International Convention Centre Wales, Newport, in June.

Jayne Bryant, Assembly Member for Newport West, said Graham has "a long record of preaching hate, prejudice and intolerance" and called for the event to cancelled.

Following her concerns and those raised by LGBTQ+ charity Pride Cymru, ICC Wales said it has taken the decision to cancel the booking.

Several venues on Graham's eight-date tour of the UK had already cancelled bookings following pressure from LGBTQ+ groups and local politicians.

Sheffield City Trust announced on Wednesday that it had cancelled a booking at Sheffield Arena after ACC Liverpool had already cancelled an event saying Graham's views were incompatible with its values.

According to Franklin Graham's website, his free event was due come to ICC Wales on June 14, where "the truth of Jesus Christ will be preached amongst a nation searching for answers".

Franklin Graham has previously labelled homosexuality and gay marriage "a sin".

In April 2019, tweeting about Christian US politician Pete Buttigieg, Graham said: "I believe the Bible which defines homosexuality as a sin, something to be repentant of".

In a 2014 interview, he compared same-sex adoption to "recruitment" and in 2016, while discussing LGBT+ influence on education, claimed the US was experiencing a "moral implosion" which he compared to the Twin Towers falling on 9/11.

On Friday morning, LGBTQ+ charity Pride Cymru said they had contacted ICC Wales "expressing concerns" over the booking. A representative said: "Hate has no place in Wales."

Jayne Bryant, AM for Newport West, said she will be taking up the issue with ICC Wales.

She said: "We should not be welcoming people like Franklin Graham to Newport.

"He has a long record of preaching hate, prejudice and intolerance.

"I’d urge the ICC to follow other venues across the UK and cancel his appearance."

An ICC Wales spokeswoman said: "The Graham Tour UK event which was scheduled to take place at ICC Wales on 14th June 2020 has been cancelled.

"As a venue, our policy is to remain impartial to the individual beliefs of both our clients and visitors but, over the past week, we have been made aware of a number of views held and comments made by the Graham organisation which are incompatible with our own values of equality, diversity and inclusivity.

"Opposition to this event has come from numerous sources, and from across the community.

"As a result of this, we can no longer reconcile the balance between freedom of speech and the divisive impact this event is having in our community.

"We have informed the organisers of the event that the booking will no longer be fulfilled.

"ICC Wales is proud to represent all communities and looks forward to hosting events of all sizes, promoting Wales as a destination for business events, and bringing huge benefits to the visitor economy."

Newport City Council leader Jane Mudd said: "It is clear from his own words that Mr Graham does not hold these same values. His comments on sexuality and religion are, I believe, incompatible with the values of the people of Newport and also our specific duties around equalities and community cohesion.

"I also understand that the events planned for Liverpool, Sheffield and Glasgow have been cancelled by the venues due to the views that Mr Graham has expressed.

"I am so pleased that we were able to work with our partners at ICC Wales to avoid something so damaging happening in Newport."

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