Pride cancels booking after controversial preacher set to appear at Winter Gardens

Blackpool Pride cancelled its two-day festival booking at the Winter Gardens in protest against the planned appearance of controversial preacher Franklin Graham.

It was scheduled to be held in the historic town centre venue on Saturday and Sunday, June 9 and 10, until the decision to pull out was announced yesterday. It will still go ahead elsewhere.

Franklin Graham

Franklin Graham

Pride Co-ordinator Callum Gillies said: “The community was not happy with the event going ahead in the Winter Gardens because Franklin Graham goes totally against everything a gay pride event stands for.

“We can’t be seen to be putting money into a venue that, eight weeks later, will support an event which is totally opposite to what we are doing.”

Opposition to Mr Graham’s appearance at the three-day Lancashire Festival of Hope at the Winter Gardens in September has grown recently. The 65-year-old American evangelist Christian has made a number of anti-gay remarks in recent years, which led to calls for home secretary Amber Rudd, right, to deny him a visa.

In 2014, he suggested the devil is behind LGBT rights and activism, saying ‘when he [the President] fails to defend biblically defined marriage, and he openly and zealously advocates for gay rights... we know we are locked in a war against the Christian faith, not culture’.

He added: “The architect behind this offensive is none other than Satan himself.”

Blackpool Council has been working with Pride organisers to find another venue, Callum said. It comes after leisure boss Coun Maria Kirkland said the council would axe Mr Graham’s appearance if his comments were ruled to have broken incitement to hatred laws.

Speaking on behalf of both the council and Winter Gardens, a town hall spokeswoman said in a statement: “We will be working with Pride Blackpool this year, as we do every year. We look forward to another successful event in Blackpool.”Mr Graham, whose father Billy visited in 1982 and died last week at the age of 99, was described as ‘inspirational’ by Matthew Branson

from Cornerstone Radio in Boothly Road recently.

He said: “He’s not saying anything different to what the Bible says.”