• The Guardian

Sheffield Arena urged to cancel event by 'homophobic' Trump ally

LGBTQ+ campaigners say Franklin Graham’s statements amount to hate speech

LGBTQ+ leaders in Sheffield have called for the cancellation of an upcoming UK tour by Donald Trump’s most prominent evangelical ally, claiming he promotes homophobic views. Franklin Graham, the influential son of the late American preacher Billy Graham, has previously said he believes gay marriage is a sin. Graham is currently on a tour of Florida – which has attracted protests from thousands of other Christians – and is to tour eight UK cities later this year. He is due to visit Sheffield Arena in June as part of his tour, which is not open to the public.

Sheffield City Trust, which runs the venue, has said it does not endorse Graham’s views but supports the right to free speech. But LGBT+ campaigners have written to the trust calling for the visit to be cancelled. The letter, signed by 22 representatives of the city’s LGBTQ+ community, says: “Franklin Graham has repeatedly publicly promoted his homophobic beliefs, including but not limited to branding homosexuality a sin …

“We believe that these statements far exceed freedom of speech and are direct hate speech and incitement to violence against LGBTQ+ communities and individuals, which should not be welcomed in our city or anywhere else.”