Police quiz Norfolk Christian over gay beliefs
2009: A Norfolk
grandmother and Christian was questioned by police after writing a letter objecting to a Gay Pride Parade in Norwich which she said was a “public display of indecency” and “offensive to God”.Pauline Howe
, 67, wrote to the chief executive of the city council following a peaceful protest of Christians at the Gay Pride Parade
in July, during which she says she was on the receiving end of verbal abuse of an explicit sexual nature.
“People came up and whispered it in my ear and were gone. It was only when I thought about what was said afterwards that I realised how bad it was,” Mrs Howe, from Poringland
, says in a message posted on the video sharing site Youtube
by The Christian Institute
The letter sent to the council, in which she also blamed gay sexual practices for spreading sexually transmitted diseases, was deemed as potentially “hate related” by staff who have a duty to “eliminate discrimination” of all kinds.
As a result she was visited at home by two female officers from Norfolk police but after questioning no further action was taken.
“We're not allowed to express our Biblical, evangelical beliefs anymore without being frightened,” she said.
Following the police visit Mrs Howe contacted The Christian Institute for advice.
The Institute is investigating whether the local council and the police have breached Mrs Howe’s rights to free speech and religious liberty under the Human Rights Act.
The Institute’s Mike Judge said: “Whether people agree or disagree with Mrs Howe’s views, everyone who cares about freedom should be alarmed at the police action.
“For democracy to survive people must be free to express their beliefs, yes even unpopular beliefs, to government bodies without fear of a knock at the door from the police.
“It’s not a crime to be a Christian, but it increasingly feels like it.”
Katy-Jon Went, a member of the Norwich Pride collective and a steward on the day of the parade, said: “I willingly chatted with the Christians and told them I was a Christian as well as being transgender. I've been a Bible teacher and a missionary and I still see myself as a Christian.
“While her comments are not defamatory they are certainly inflammatory. I think it is quite hypocritical for her to say her freedom of speech has been jeopardised when she was writing to say we should not have been allowed the parade.”
Nick O'Brien, chairman of Norwich Pride, which is organised by a collective of volunteers from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) community, said: “We're sorry to hear about Mrs Howe's complaint and feel that her comments show why Pride events are needed - to help fight prejudice and increase understanding.”
A Norfolk Constabulary spokesman said: “We investigate all alleged hate incidents. In this instance the individual concerned was visited by officers, the comments discussed and no further action was taken.”