Dale McAlpine, 42, said he has been preaching in his hometown of Cumbria for years. On April 20, he was handing out leaflets when a woman engaged him in a private debate. During the conversation, McAlpine said he believed homosexuality went against the Word of God. After the conversation, a police support community officer, who identified himself as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender liaison officer for Cumbria police, told McAlpine he could be arrested for using homophobic language.
After the conversation, McAlpine got on a stepladder and preached a 20-minute sermon, in which he says he did not mention homosexuality. However, after the sermon, a number of police gathered and arrested him for using abusive or insulting language, contrary to the Public Order Act, which was originally created to deal with soccer hooligans.
Officers claimed McAlpine was speaking in a voice loud enough to be overheard by others during his conversation with the woman. McAlpine said he used a quiet voice.
“I felt deeply shocked and humiliated that I had been arrested in my own town and treated like a common criminal in front of people I know,” he said. “My freedom was taken away on the hearsay of someone who disliked what I said, and I was charged under a law that doesn't apply.”
This isn’t the first time Christians have been arrested under the Public Order Act, which outlaws the unreasonable use of abusive language likely to cause distress. One man was arrested in 2002 for holding up a sign saying “Stop immorality. Stop Homosexuality. Stop Lesbianism. Jesus is Lord.” [telegraph.co.uk, 5/2/10]