LONDON, July 9, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A visiting American Christian evangelist was arrested earlier this month in the UK for preaching that homosexual acts are sinful. The arrest was made under the notorious Section 5 of the Public Order Act, despite the fact that the pertinent wording of the law was recently overturned by Parliament after a rash of similar incidents and a campaign against the law spearheaded by actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson, of Mr. Bean fame.
On Monday, July 1, Tony Miano, a retired member of the Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department who received more than 60 commendations and citations for meritorious service during his career, was preaching in Wimbledon, where thousands of sports fans are gathered to watch the annual tennis championships.
He says he was preaching on 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12, focusing on the teaching of the Bible on “both heterosexual immorality and homosexual immorality.” While doing so a woman approached him.
“She turned, glared at me and told me to ‘f-off’,” he said. “I asked her why she was being so judgmental and that I would love to dialogue with her.” She then left, but later called police, who arrived and arrested Miano telling him he was “guilty of using homophobic speech that could cause people anxiety, distress, alarm or insult.”
In video of the arrest, a police officer can be heard telling Miano, “We're arresting you under Section 5 of Public Order. This is because people have been offended by what you've said.”
Miano says that he “tried to explain to the officers that there was nothing homophobic about my speech because I’m not afraid of homosexuals. That I love homosexuals enough to want to bring them the truth of the Gospel.”
After his arrest Miano, who worked as a gang investigator, field training officer, drug recognition expert, and a DUI enforcement specialist, was photographed, fingerprinted and had DNA samples taken. He remained in custody for about seven hours.
The preacher says he hopes he will be able to obtain and publicize a recording of his interrogation, which he said was “surreal.” “The world really needs to hear it, not just here in Great Britain but in the United States as well,” he said.
“I was interrogated about my faith in Jesus Christ. I was asked if a homosexual asked me for a favour, would I do it. I responded by saying that if a homosexual asked me for something to eat I would get him something to eat.”
Miano says he was asked, “Do you believe that you have done anything wrong?” “My answer was no.” Then the officer asked, “If you were released would you go back out there and do the same thing?” “My answer was yes,” Miano said.
Miano was told that he would see a magistrate the next day, and that he would likely be ordered to remain in the country until the trial was complete, which could have been as much as four or five months. However, he was surprised when an officer told him later that night that there would be no charges and he was free to go. He has since returned to the U.S.
Miano said of his experience that it is clear that “England is losing its soul and the Church is doing very little about it”.
“The Church at large has basically abdicated their responsibility to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to this lost and dying country. Mainly out of fear of reprisals,” he said in a video.
Miano’s lawyer, Michael Philips, who works with Christian Concern for Our Nation, told LifeSiteNews.com that although the change in the Public Order Act had been made in Parliament, it has yet to come into effect.
The Act covers speech and writing on signs. In its original form it states, “A person is guilty of an offence if he uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.”
In January this year, however, following a high-profile campaign which united Christian and secular groups, the word “insulting” was removed from the section. That provision of the Act has been used regularly by police and homosexual activists to quash public dissent, particularly by Christians, who express opposition to homosexuality. The campaign, “Reform Section 5 – Feel free to insult me,” was joined by the Christian Institute and led by Rowan Atkinson.
When asked if the police should have been aware of the pending change in the law, Philips told LifeSiteNews.com that both the police and the Crown Prosecution Services are “very much influenced” by “gay activists”.
“They are getting propaganda from Stonewall and gay activist groups all the time. This means they’re in this heightened state, like the 1950s with the ‘reds under the bed’. Every little tittle tattle is cause for arrest. You’ve got some very overzealous officers.”
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Miano said that while he waited in his cell, he “sang hymns and spent time worshiping the Lord”. “I knew they could hear me outside the cell…with a voice loud enough for them to hear, but not so loud that they thought I was trying to create a disturbance in the jail, I proclaimed the law and the Gospel in the cell.”
Philips said that another factor that may have influenced police to act was the high profile of the Wimbledon tennis tournament. “The world’s media are there and to a certain extent” police may be subconsciously or consciously break the law to “keep the streets clean,” he said.
“In the end, they know that there’ll be no prosecution, no conviction but they’ve done their job, to shut the person up at the time.”
“[The police] will never admit that they did anything wrong,” he added. “They’ll say that they had an allegation and were duty bound to investigate, that’s the official line.”