Christian preacher, 42, who was convicted of public order offence after calling a trans woman a ‘gentleman’ has harassment conviction quashed as judge hails importance of free speech
- David McConnell, 42, won his appeal over conviction for public order offence
- Christian preacher McConnell was filmed misgendering a trans woman in Leeds
A CHRISTIAN street preacher had a conviction for misgendering a trans woman overturned after an appeal court ruling yesterday.
David McConnell, 42, was found guilty of a public order offence by magistrates after he repeatedly called a transgender woman a ‘man’ while addressing a crowd in Leeds city centre.
He was arrested after police arrived to find him arguing over his views about the LGBTQ community with a ‘hostile crowd’ of around 100 people. But yesterday a judge at Leeds Crown Court overturned the conviction for causing harassment, alarm or distress.
Recorder Anthony Hawks said Mr McConnell was ‘simply repeating what he genuinely believed to be the Bible’s teaching’.
‘We live in a time when free speech is important and vital and we live in a time when people’s attitude towards gender are very different from how they were years ago,’ he said.
Street preacher David McConnell, 42, was reported to counter-terror police for statements he made referring to a trans person
‘All these issues need to be properly respected so I make no criticism whatsoever of the crown bringing the prosecution in this case.’ Mr McConnell, a lettings agent who has preached in public for 15 years across northern England, had been sentenced to do 80 hours unpaid work over the incident in June 2021.
The court heard he was approached by Farrah Munir, 20, and asked: ‘Does God accept the LGBT community?’ Their interaction was captured on video and viewed in court.
Mr McConnell replied: ‘No, God hates sin. So, this gentleman asked a question…’
Members of the crowd shouted: ‘She’s a woman.’
The preacher has been criticised for comments he has made about trans and gay people, including saying that homosexuality was an ‘abomination’
Mr McConnell, of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, told the crowd: ‘I’m fully aware that is a man, you can tell by looking at him that he is a man dressed in women’s clothes.’ Addressing Miss Munir directly in the street, he said: ‘You are not a woman, you are a man.’
He also stated that homosexuality was an ‘abomination in the eyes of God’.
PC Gareth Burns said that when he arrived an ‘angry mob’ had gathered and he arrested the preacher partly for his own safety.
Outside court Mr McConnell said he was ‘delighted’ to be cleared, adding: ‘How I was treated was totally unreasonable and should concern anyone who cares about Christian freedoms and free speech.’
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