A preacher is being investigated for a hate crime after he was filmed during Belfast Pride accusing LGBTQ+ people of “wanting to rape our children”.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have said they are investigating the incident, in which a preacher claimed people should “stand up against the sin of homosexuality”, ahead of Belfast Pride on Saturday (29 July).
Thousands attended the parade, described as the city’s “largest ever” and “unapologetically trans-inclusive”, with this year’s theme of “Stand By Your Trans”.
A video circulated during the event of a preacher using a PA system to make homophobic statements, including: “They [LGBTQ+ people] want to rape our children, they want to rape our country, they want to pillage and they want to pilfer all in the name of love.”
He added: “Homosexuals have become so brazen that they wanted to rape the righteous, well that’s what’s happening today.”
During the video, two police officers can be seen watching the incident.
Alliance Party councillor Micky Murray condemned the incident on social media, claiming that the fact police officers were in attendance but did not arrest the preacher was “an absolute disgrace and a failure of policing”.
“Hate speech is NOT free speech,” he added, explaining that he had reported the video to the PSNI.
He then tweeted that he “welcomed” the news that PSNI are treating the incident as a hate crime.
Other Pride-goers responded to Murray’s tweet, claiming that while hate crimes and hate speech are rising, “the Pride parade will absolutely drown them out”
Superintendent Christian Bradley of PSNI told PinkNews in a statement: “Police are aware of a video circulating on social media showing a male using a public address system in the Royal Avenue area of the city on Saturday, 29th July prior to the Belfast Pride Parade.
“Officers were present at the scene and gathered evidence on Body Worn video. This footage is being reviewed by investigators.
“The incident is being treated as a hate crime.”
Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a hate crime is urged to call the police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit the True Vision website. In an emergency, always dial 999.