Newcastle arena cancels Franklin Graham's UK tour event

Franklin Graham speaking at the World Summit in Defense of Christians.Facebook

Newcastle's Utilita has announced it will no longer be hosting Franklin Graham's evangelistic event. 

It had until Wednesday been the only venue in Graham's eight-day UK tour not to have cancelled. 

But a spokesperson told the Newcastle Chronicle today that the tour stop at the arena scheduled for June 3 will no longer be going ahead. 

The venue had been under pressure from the LGBT+ campaign group Northern Pride and Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes to cancel the event. 

Forbes told the newspaper he was "delighted" that Utilita had pulled out of hosting the event. 

He said: "Pastor Graham peddles controversial, repulsive views about LGBT people which are in direct conflict with the values we hold dear in Newcastle.

"The vast number of individuals, organisations and communities that supported my call for the show to be scrapped shows that Newcastle is a city that will not accept hate speech in any form. This is reflected in many other towns and cities across the country who have also stepped forward to cancel these shows.

"I would like to thank everyone at the Utilita Arena and its owners ASM Global for taking a stand and making the correct decision. Newcastle is a safe city and a place where people are accepted and welcomed for who they are.

"I'm pleased we've come together as a city to reinforce these values and stand firm against those who peddle outdated and discriminatory views. Instead of focusing on such divisions, we can now come together and look forward to hosting UK Pride here this summer."

Graham's UK tour has been strongly opposed by LGBT+ campaigners because of his staunch defence of traditional marriage and his definition of homosexuality as a "sin".

Despite the venues cancelling, Graham has said the tour will go ahead as planned, albeit at different venues. 

He has denied he is bringing a message of hate to the UK and is inviting members of the LGBT+ community to come and hear him preach. 

"My message to all people is that they can be forgiven and they can have a right relationship with God. That's Good News. That is the hope people on every continent around the world are searching for," he said.

"In the UK as well as in the United States, we have religious freedom and freedom of speech. I'm not coming to the UK to speak against anybody, I'm coming to speak for everybody. The Gospel is inclusive. I'm not coming out of hate, I'm coming out of love.

"I invite everyone in the LGBTQ community to come and hear for yourselves the Gospel messages that I will be bringing from God's Word, the Bible. You are absolutely welcome."

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association UK, which is coordinating Graham's tour, said that it is going ahead as planned. 

"We are still finalising where the Graham Tour will be held, but we want to be clear that the initiative and all associated training courses will take place on the same dates as originally planned," it said.

"We are continuing to consider sites for the main event and when we have determined where the meetings will take place, we will post updates. All Christian Life and Witness courses are proceeding as scheduled."