The preacher son of US evangelist Billy Graham is threatening to sue eight British arenas that cancelled his shows after protests from the LGBT community.
Franklin Graham, 67, a vocal supporter of US President, Donald Trump, describes homosexuality as a ‘sin’ and is in favour of ‘gay conversion therapy’.
The ACC Liverpool conference centre was the first to cancel one of his planned events saying last month that his views were ‘incompatible’ with their values and the Sheffield Arena followed soon after.
Since then venues in Glasgow, Newcastle, Cardiff, Birmingham, Milton Keynes and London have all followed suit.
But Graham said today his lawyers were fighting back claiming the venues had breached contracts and had discriminated against him because of his religious beliefs.
He also remains unrepentant on his ‘homophobic’ views and even claimed that the Queen would agree with him.
He told the Guardian: ‘We had contracts signed and, in some cases, deposits paid. I haven’t broken any laws.
‘We are being denied because of religious beliefs and our faith. It’s a freedom of religion issue and also a free speech issue.
‘We have attorneys trying to get the venues to reverse their decisions. We certainly have a legal position we’re standing on.’
The controversial preacher, who followed in the footsteps of his late father Billy, refused to back down on his views about gay marriage – and even claimed the Queen would agree with him.
He told Premier Christian News: ‘I believe the Bible teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s the Church of England’s position.
‘I think Her Majesty the Queen, that’s her position and it’s the position of the Church, pretty much worldwide. This is what the Bible teaches and that’s what I believe.’
Graham had been due to tour the UK in May but says he is confident of securing alternative venues, some bigger than those that had cancelled.
He said: ‘We’ve certainly talked to other venues and many of them have indicated it wouldn’t be an issue with them. Some of the venues that we will probably book will be actually larger venues than we had previously.’
Graham’s father, evangelist Billy Graham, died in 2018 aged 99.
He visited the UK several times and during his ‘crusades’ of Britain from 1954 to 1989, he regularly filled out sporting arenas including Wembley Stadium.
He met the Queen in 1955 and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.
The ACC in Liverpool said last month that Graham had made a ‘number of statements which we consider to be incompatible with our values.
‘In light of this, we can no longer reconcile the balance between freedom of speech and the divisive impact this event is having in our city.
‘We have informed the organizers of the event that the booking will no longer be fulfilled.’
After the Liverpool cancellation last month he posted an open letter to the LGBT community on Facebook, saying ‘we are all sinners’ and denied he was bringing hate speech to Britain.
Today he issued an apology but still insisted that homosexuality was a sin.
He said: ‘I don’t know what they’ve heard or what they’ve experienced but I would certainly apologise to anyone who feels that I am against them, or hates them.
‘People who use these words like homophobic or Islamophobic – I’m not sure what those terms even are. But I would certainly apologise if there was someone who’s afraid or hurt because of something that they think I have said.
‘I’m here to say that God loves you. God is willing to forgive sin. If we will repent and believe on the name of his son, Jesus Christ, we will be forgiven.’
Graham claimed the LGBT community were threatening free speech.
He said: ‘This is a religious freedom issue and it’s also a free speech issue. It doesn’t just affect me.
‘If a small group of people can force a cancellation of an event where thousands of Christians are participating, I think there is no question about the danger in the future to others.’
He added: ‘It’s one of our most cherished freedoms so I would certainly encourage people to push back and to guard and protect your right to free speech and then also for our religious beliefs.
‘I hold firm to my religious beliefs and to be discriminated against because of those religious beliefs – we need to be very careful and protect what we can.’
Members of the LGBT community had petitioned the venues and local political leaders urging them to stop him from speaking.
Graham responded with an open letter to the ‘UK LGBTQ community’ on Facebook.
He wrote: ‘It is said by some that I coming to the UK to bring hateful speech to your community. This is just not true.
‘I am coming to share the Gospel, which is the Good News that God loves the people of the UK, and that Jesus Christ came to this earth to save us from our sins.’
He continued by saying he thinks the ‘rub’ is over ‘whether God defines homosexuality as a sin’.
The preacher continued: ‘The answer is yes. But God goes even further than that, to say that we are all sinners, myself included.
‘The Bible says that every human being is guilty of sin and in need of forgiveness and cleansing.’