Councillor says pastor who criticised gay Pride event should be deported
A councillor in Cornwall is calling for the deportation of an Australian pastor who welcomed the cancellation of the local Pride event.
Stephen Hick, Newquay Town Councillor and Cornwall Pride leader, said in a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel that Pastor Josh Williamson was a hate preacher and should be deported back to his native Australia.
Pastor Williamson, of Newquay Baptist Church, angered the LGBT community when he wrote on Facebook that the cancellation of this year's Pride event was "wonderful news".
In the ensuing backlash, LGBT activists threatened violence against Pastor Williamson and his wife, and called for the church to be burnt down.
When Cornwall police spoke to Pastor Williamson, they warned him to restrict his views to a "safe environment" and refrain from offending the LGBT community in the future, according to Christian Concern which is assisting him.
In his letter to Patel, Cllr Hick wrote: "Josh Williamson's ministry has caused harm to members of the community of Newquay and the wider LGBTQ+ community across Cornwall.
"I believe his continued presence, preaching the hate that he does, presents a continuing harm to the same communities.
"I am unaware of the previous ministry of this particular church, but a foreign preacher travelling to the UK to promote and potentially act upon extremist views should be treated with the utmost seriousness."
Cllr Hick has also called on businesses in the Newquay area to refuse services to Pastor Williamson and the church.
Writing in the Newquay Voice, Cllr Hick said: "I call on every individual and business within Newquay to deny him and his church the ability to spread their odious message. Do not interact with them, do not allow them to use your premises, do not accept their message."
Responding to the call, Pastor Williamson said Cllr Hick's comments were "textbook bullying".
"I am not sure how Mr. Hick is going to identify those connected with our church, perhaps he'll want us to wear a yellow cross on our shirts?" he said.
Christian Concern called the councillor's words "chilling".
"We are continuing to support Josh and his church and call on Mr Hick to retract these vindictive comments," it said.
"Jesus taught us to love even those who hate us ... Pray for Josh and pray for Stephen Hick."