Edinburgh Council to pay damages over cancellation of Christian conference

Destiny Church founder Andrew Owen

Edinburgh Council must pay £25,000 in damages to a church after cancelling its conference over the LGBT beliefs of a guest speaker. 

The city council pulled the plug on the three-day conference that had been planned by Destiny Church for the Usher Hall in summer 2020. 

American preacher Larry Stockstill had been lined up as a speaker but the council objected to his traditional views on marriage and sexuality.

When members of the LGBT community complained, the council cancelled the booking on the grounds that Stockstill's views were "offensive and discriminatory". 

The council has now apologised for its actions and admitted that it "failed to meet its equalities duties to Destiny Ministries in terms of the Equality Act 2010 and therefore acted unlawfully".

Welcoming the apology, Destiny pastor Andrew Owen said: "This serious infringement of religious liberty and freedom of expression had to be challenged.

"With this behind us we look forward to being able to make use of council premises in the future."

The Christian Institute's Deputy Director, Ciarán Kelly, said the outcome would be encouraging for other Christian organisations.

"This was a clear case of unlawful religious discrimination and denial of free speech and it's helpful that in the end the council recognised its actions were wrong without having to be told by a court," he said.

"It will encourage faithful churches and Christian organisations that the law is on their side. And it is a reminder to councils and other venue providers that they cannot trample on religious freedom simply because they don't like Christian beliefs."

The Evangelical Alliance's Peter Lynas said the settlement was "a good outcome".