A Christian councillor suspended by the Conservative Party after posting a tweet criticising LGBT Pride events is to launch legal action.
King Lawal, a Conservative councillor at North Northamptonshire Unitary Council for the last two years, tweeted, "When did Pride become a thing to celebrate. Because of Pride Satan fell as an arch Angel. Pride is not a virtue but a Sin. Those who have Pride should Repent of their sins and return to Jesus Christ. He can save you. #PrideMonth #Pride23 #PrideParade."
The comments were posted alongside an image with a verse from Isaiah 3:9 which said: "Whatever God calls 'Sin' is nothing to be Proud of."
The tweet was posted in response to a Twitter thread by Anglican commentator and broadcaster Calvin Robinson expressing concern about the sexualised nature of Pride events.
Following a backlash against his comments, Cllr Lawal issued a statement in which he denied that it was hateful to refer to Pride as a sin.
"When Christians refer to 'sin' or 'sinners' we are speaking of ourselves. We are not singling out specific people or groups of people as sinners. Sin according to the bible includes, lying, stealing, gossip and hatred, not just things like homosexuality, adultery and sex outside of the marriage. Jesus said that even to have unholy thoughts that we never act on is sinful. Therefore every single one of us is sinful by this standard, including myself," he said.
He continued, "So when Christians say 'repent' and believe in Jesus or refer to something you associate with as 'sin', it's not because they hate you. it is because they love you and want to see you saved from punishment the same way they have been saved.
"I therefore do not come against those celebrating Pride to attack who they are, my intention was to say that I would not celebrate this any more than I would celebrate a month of gossip or anything else the bible calls sin."
The 31-year-old councillor has been suspended by the local branch of the Conservative Party pending an investigation involving Conservative headquarters.
The Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which is supporting Cllr Lawal, said that in addition to the Conservative Party, he has been "cancelled" by six other organisations, including the local library which banned him from holding surgeries there, and a charity that has removed him as a trustee.
He has also been warned of a possible police investigation.
It called the repercussions faced by Cllr Lawal "unprecedented" and said that they demonstrate that "Christians who hold public office can no longer express their beliefs without having their careers and lives dismantled".
Cllr Lawal said: "It is now almost impossible to say something biblically truthful on sexual ethics in UK society without being cancelled and having your life ruined.
"During Pride month, I was appalled by some of the illegal activity I saw online at these events. I had real concern for the children witnessing it who will grow up believing this is ok.
"It is very rare for me to take to Twitter, but I saw that the Pride movement was silencing any questioning or dissent and I could no longer be silent.
"What I said was biblically sound and a protected expression of the Christian faith.
"As the only black councillor in the whole of Northamptonshire, I know what it is like to be in the minority, and I would never discriminate against anyone. I have diligently represented all my constituents; however, I must also be free to express my beliefs without fear."
He continued, "What has happened shows that I am not free and that this is not a free country anymore. If it was free, I would be able to speak.
"The message my story sends is that Christians must stay silent on these issues, or else. What I expressed was not something I made up in my mind, it is what it says in the Bible.
"How I have been treated is really troubling for a democratic society. It must ring alarm bells and should concern everybody who cares about Christian freedoms and free speech as this can now happen to anyone that is not in support of this extreme LGBT movement."
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said it was "a clear case of viewpoint discrimination against a standard expression of Christian belief".
"Where is 'diversity', 'tolerance' and 'inclusion' here? We have only a monoculture which requires approval, allegiance and promotion of LGBT Pride no matter what," she said.
"Institutions and even the government have been captured to such an extent by this ideology that if you speak against it, within a week, you can become a 'non-person.'
"The pace at which Cllr Lawal has been essentially removed from public life for expressing his beliefs is disturbing as he has been democratically elected and undemocratically cancelled.
"Local authorities, schools and even libraries cannot be allowed to discriminate against and exclude Christians and their beliefs under the increasingly draconian and oppressive banner of 'inclusivity'."
Cllr Jason Smithers, leader of North Northamptonshire Council, said: "North Northamptonshire Conservative Group are an inclusive group. We continue to be committed to reducing inequality within our communities and creating a fair and inclusive environment for everyone. We fully support our LGBTQ+ community, as we support all communities."
Conservative Campaign Headquarters have been contacted for comment.