Priest who called gays a `cancer' is cleared
Stephen Brown is the UK Country Director at the Global Poverty Project and head of the national fundraising challenge Live Below the Line. Stephen has won a series of awards and nominations for his work, including an International Emmy nomination for his work on Channel 4’s Battlefront TV show. Previous to the Global Poverty Project, Stephen was Campaign Director for Diane Abbott during the Labour Leadership battle of 2010 and is the former National Secretary of the National Union of Students. Stephen is a contributor to The Huffington Post and more recently, The Big Issue and is about to start as a guest panellist on London Live’s Not the One Show.
Saturday 12 February 2005
The 63-year-old Pentecostal pastor, Ake Green, gave a sermon on the island of Oland off Sweden's east coast in 2003 blaming homosexuals for the spread of HIV/Aids.
He became the first person convicted of inciting hatred on grounds of sexual orientation under 2002 legislation, provoking debate about freedom of speech and religion in a highly secular and egalitarian country.
The court in Jonkoping, southern Sweden, quashed Mr Green's conviction, finding "nothing indicates the pastor used his position as a cover for attacking homosexuals".
It defended his right to preach what it called "the Bible's categorical condemnation of homosexual relations as a sin", even if such views were "alien to most citizens".
Mr Green called the ruling a relief. "I'll go on preaching but I won't be dedicating so much time to this issue," he said.
The prosecutor had wanted a six-month sentence and was undecided about further appeals.
The Lutheran Swedish Church is progressive, having first allowed women priests in 1958. But it does not permit same-sex marriages. (Reuters)
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