Skip to content

Street preacher arrested in London for "homophobic" language

Printer-friendly version

Police arrested a man in South West London on Monday (1st July) for using “homophobic” speech whilst street preaching.  He is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre.

Tony Miano, a US citizen, was questioned by the police after a member of the public called them to the scene.

He had been speaking on the subject of sexual immorality and the need to abstain from it based on a passage from the Bible (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12).

Fingerprinted

Mr Miano was then arrested at 4:40pm and taken to the local police station where he was photographed, fingerprinted and had a DNA sample taken. He was taken to a cell with a toilet but no toilet paper.

The investigating officer offered him a £90 fine which he said would ensure Mr Miano’s immediate release and an assurance that he would be able to return to the UK. Mr Miano opted to wait for the arrival of his solicitor before making a decision.

He was then later interviewed by the investigating officer with his solicitor, Michael Phillips, present. One of the questions the officer asked was whether Mr Miano would help a homosexual who asks him for a "favour".  Mr Miano indicated that he would by saying "the word of God tells me to love your neighbor as myself."

"So if a homosexual walked up to me and said, I’m hungry and I need something to eat. I would  walk them to the nearest restaurant, give them something to eat, and share the Gospel with them because I love them," he said.

Prosecution

The two final questions that the officer asked him were: "Do you feel that what you did... is 100 per cent acceptable in a public place?“ and “Will you do this again tomorrow?” Mr Miano replied affirmatively to both questions. The investigating officer told Mr Miano’s solicitor that his answers to these last two questions left him no choice but to seek prosecution.

He was then escorted back to his cell and was given, upon request, a Bible to read – the very book whose teachings had led to his arrest.

About an hour later, the investigating officer entered Mr Miano’s cell and told him that the inspector had decided to release him with no further action. At midnight Mr Miano was released after just over seven hours in custody.

Not homophobic

Mr Miano said: “The language I used was not homophobic, as I was not promoting fear or hatred of homosexuals. I began my message by assuring the people that mine was not a message of hate but of love. I was simply explaining a passage in the Bible which speaks of sexual immorality and that people should abstain from it (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12).

“I did not speak solely about homosexuality as a form of sexual immorality but also about any kind of sex outside of marriage between one man and one woman, as well as lustful thoughts. All of these are considered mainstream Christian positions and have been taught and believed by Christians for thousands of years.

“It was very distressing to be arrested and interrogated for openly expressing my deeply held Christian beliefs."

Mr Miano said that it surprised him that a “person to be taken to jail for their thoughts.” 

“As the questioning started it became apparent that the interrogation was about more than the incident that too place in the street but what I believed and how I think,” he said.

Thought police

“I was being interrogated about my thoughts … that is the basic definition of thought police.

“It surprised me that here in the country that produced the Magna Carta that an otherwise law abiding person could lose his freedom because one person was offended by the content of my speech.”

Mr Miano plans to send a letter to every member of both Houses of Parliament, expressing his concerns about diminishing free speech in the UK and his fears that the proposed legislation redefining marriage will lead to an increasing number of cases like his.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, believes that Mr Miano’s arrest has great significance in light of the current passage of the Government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.

First of many

She said: “If we continue on the current trajectory, Tony’s arrest will simply be the first of many.

“No assurances that the government gives will be enough. It is ridiculous to think that if the same sex marriage Bill goes through these kinds of incidents will magically cease. It’s clear that there is already a clampdown on freedom of speech where people publicly express mainstream Christian views on sexual ethics.

“At the Christian Legal Centre we are ready to serve anyone who is challenged for expressing their Christian beliefs. We are ready to fight for freedom of speech and the right to preach the gospel.”

Watch footage of the arrest and events leading up to it >

Read a transcript of Tony Miano's interview at the police station >

Read an article on the case in the Telegraph >

Subscribe to our emails