LGBT+ charity joins campaign to stop controversial preacher's show at Sheffield's FlyDSA Arena

A Sheffield charity, which has supported LGBT+ people in the city for over 20 years, has joined a campaign to stop a controversial US preacher from coming to the city.

Monday, 20th January 2020, 4:13 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 12:53 pm

SAYiT has joined voices across the region protesting at Franklin Graham.

He will visit the FlyDSA Arena in June, 35 years after his dad Billy Graham preached to 300,000 in the city.

Politicians from all parties and the Bishop of Sheffield have already urged Sheffield City Trust, which operates the Arena, to scrap the concert amid fears it could spark hate crimes and public protests.

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Controversial preacher Franklin Graham

SAYiT chief executive Steve Slack said: “We understand that this is a purely commercial decision made by the Trust but as a charity supporting vulnerable young LGBT+ people we see firsthand the devastating impact of increasing hate crimes and discrimination on their lives.

“Many of those we work with experience mental health problems and a high proportion have self-harmed or attempted to take their own lives as a result of the discrimination they’ve faced.

“Franklin Graham has a long history of making preposterous and hateful statements about LGBT+ people, referring to them as ‘predators and perverts’, as well as suggesting that they are ‘the enemy’ of civilisation.

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“He’s also an advocate of ‘gay conversion therapy’, which continues to be condemned across the globe and scientifically proven to be damaging.

“It is not possible to change someone’s sexual orientation and to promote such practices, which have led to depression, self-harm and suicide, is dangerous.”

Mr Slack said city leaders acknowledged the concert could increase the risk of hate crime and said the Trust had a duty to protect the welfare of young people.

“We call upon the Trust to demonstrate leadership and social responsibility and to fulfil their duty of care to Sheffield and its communities by cancelling this damaging and inflammatory event.”

Sheffield City Trust declined to comment but has previously said it supports the right to free speech.

It says it does not endorse the views of Franklin Graham and is working with South Yorkshire Police, faith groups and the council.