Vindicated: Christian Street Preacher’s ‘Misgendering’ Conviction Overturned

A Christian street preacher has been “vindicated” after his conviction for harassment for declaring that a “transwoman” was in fact a man was overturned.

David McConnell was given a 12-month community order accompanied by 80 hours of unpaid work in September for allegedly misgendering Farrah Munir while he was preaching on the streets of Leeds in 2021, has had his conviction quashed at the Leeds Magistrates’ Court this week, the BBC reports.

During the incident, McConnell was approached by Munir during a street sermon and asked: “Does God accept the LBGT community?”

In his answer, the Christian preacher referred to Munir, who identifies as a transgender woman, as a “gentleman” and a “man in woman’s clothing”.

He went on to say that “homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God” and that “the Bible says lesbianism is an unnatural and vile passion.”

In his appeal against the September conviction, Mr McConnell argued that he was not in fact misgendering Munir, saying: “I knew the person in front of me was a biological male and, therefore, I stayed true to God and true to my beliefs.”

Munir claimed before the court to have been “upset” and “emotionally distraught, as this had never happened to me before.”

Quashing the conviction, the presiding judge in the appeal, Recorder Anthony Hawks still defended the authorities, saying: “We live in a time when free speech is important and vital and we live in a time when people’s attitudes towards gender are very different from how they were years ago.

“All these issues need to be properly respected, so I make no criticism whatsoever of the Crown bringing a prosecution in this case.”

Following the successful appeal, the chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which supported McConnell in his case, Andrea Williams, said that he had “been vindicated”.

“This case has represented a disturbing trend in our society which is seeing members of the public and professionals being prosecuted and reported as potential terrorists for refusing to celebrate and approve LGBTQ ideology.

“Police forces who fly pride flags from their headquarters are failing to provide Christian preachers with impartial protection. If a person cries ‘offence’ at a street preacher’s words, it’s the street preacher that is punished and taken out. This is deeply illiberal.”

In response to the ruling, McConnell said he was “delighted and relieved” with the decision.

However, he added that he was still “appalled” at his treatment by authorities during the case, saying: “No other street preacher, professional or member of the public must go through what I have.”

Indeed, in addition to being sentenced to a 12-month community order, Mr McConnell was also reportedly referred to the Prevent counter-terrorism programme over the Christian beliefs he preached on the streets, which apparently were deemed radical enough to justify, in the heads of some, reporting him to the programme.

According to McConnell’s former probation officer, the preacher was “viewed to be persistently and illegally espousing an extreme point of view”.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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