Christian street preacher David McConnell has shared the story of his shocking arrest for ‘misgendering’ someone in the Critic. Here’s an excerpt.
I preach on all types of sin. However, most people ask questions and want to talk about issues surrounding same sex relationships and gender issues. Some of these questions come from a genuine desire to understand what God feels about these topics. However, I find some questions are disingenuous and largely designed to cause trouble and close down the preaching.
This was the case with the recent arrest I experienced in Leeds City centre. I was preaching to a small group of people and was approached by a man dressed and acting like a woman. He asked me if God accepted the LGBTQ+ community — to which I had responded that God hates sin.
I addressed the crowd with the question that had been asked. (This is a method I use to engage the crowd.) I told them “this gentleman” had asked a question about if God accepts the LGBTQ+ community. Once I had said this, I ended up being heckled by other people who argued that this was a woman and as much a “woman” as a biological woman. This went back and forth for a few minutes until I managed to finish answering the question and move on.
The man identifying as a woman went off and phoned the police. He came back and continued joining in with the crowd — singing, laughing and even sitting on the floor continuing to listen to me preaching, as I carried on answering questions.
The crowd continued to grow, some behaving threateningly. Someone even stole my speaker.
When the police arrived, the people calmed down somewhat and the officer asked me to stop preaching, which I did. When I told the officer what had happened, he was angered and snapped: “She’s already told you she is a woman.” I was handcuffed and arrested.
I was taken to Elland Road station, where I stood and thought “this is absurd and must be overturned at some point”. I was kept in the cells for 14 hours overnight and released after an interview in the morning. I thought the CPS would watch the footage and throw the case out — but they didn’t and charged me. At the magistrates I was flabbergasted when the judge ruled in favour of the CPS and charged me with 80 hours community service and a £700 fine. The lady at the probation service also reported me to Prevent – the anti terrorism organisation. I found this incredibly disturbing given that I am a law abiding, hard working family man who just happens to be a Christian preacher.