Following action by Scottish campaigners, Scottish Borders Council have now banned Pastor Angus Buchan, criticised for misogyny and homophobia, from preaching on their premises.
The South African pastor, who has been invited by the evangelical Hope Church to speak at the Volunteer Hall, Galashiels, Scotland, later this month, has caused an outcry among LGBTI rights advocates.
The Scottish Borders LGBT Equality organisation, supported by Scottish Borders Rape Crisis, contacted Live Borders, part of the Scottish Borders Council, who own the venue who then decided not to allow Buchan to use their premises.
Buchan preaches to tens of thousands paying participants in South Africa where he says that homosexuality is a “disease” that can be “cured” by prayer.
The Pastor also runs “Mighty Men” conferences where he teaches men to “remedy” their masculinity, and for women to subject themselves to their husbands and to support corporal punishment of their children.
Speaking with KaleidoScot, Susan Hart, chair of the Scottish Borders LGBT Equality organisation, said: “We were very pleased that Scottish Borders worked with us to ensure there is no place for Pastor Angus Buchan to preach his messages of intolerance. We would like to thank the many wonderful people of the borders for all their messages of support and organisations such Rape Crisis who are willing to stand with us.
“Our organisation encourages diversity, and acceptance. Spreading messages of hate towards LGBTI people, women and children only can harm rural communities like ours and cause division.
“We took this decision after reaching out to Hope Church asking for a dialogue, but when no answer was forthcoming we raised the issue with Live Borders.
“They responded that they will not enable the use of the venue by Buchan as they have a policy not to hire out their premises if an event caused public offence.
“Only afterward Live Borders’ decision was made did Hope Church contact us, saying they are open for dialogue.
“Buchan’s views that LGBTI people are diseased and can be cured, and that men should dominate women and physically punish children in the family unit are extremely damaging. In my view this crosses the line between freedom of speech and hate speech.
“Of course he can still appear in another private venue, but many in the borders area are quite angry about his views and I think would want to demonstrate if Buchan is allowed to preach in another location here.”
Susie Stein, Service Manager of the Scottish Borders Rape Crisis commented on Buchan’s visit saying: “We are an organisation supporting all women and girls who have experienced sexual violence at any time in their lives. We are concerned by Buchan’s misogynist and homophobic views and comments.
“We work closely with LGBT Equality and other organisations in the Borders to promote inclusion and equality for all women and the LGBT community.”
Scott Cuthberston, of the Equality Network, said he supported the decision, telling KaleidoScot: “The right of free speech is not without consequence, nor does it come without the right of reply. Borders Council has a responsibility to support the wellbeing of people in the Borders, including LGBTI people.
“We therefore welcome the decision of Live Borders to deny the use of council funded premises to a speaker who preaches harm to LGBTI people. We also support the efforts of Borders LGBT equality who have worked to ensure Angus Buchan is clear on what LGBTI inclusion means in the Scottish Borders.”
Speaking with KaleidoScot, Melanie Nathan, Executive Director of The African Human Rights Coalition congradulated the Scottish groups for their action and called upon UK wide action to have Buchan denied platforms to preach his homophobic and misogynistic views. She also called for the pastor to be banned from entering the UK. She said: “It is important to note that no one is curbing Buchan’s right to free speech or to practice his religion. He has the internet, he has his pulpit, he has his own country. What he does not have is a right to enter a foreign country. That is a privilege.
“Issuing a visa is up to a country’s government and if that government determines that a person will cause harm in their country, they have a duty, in my opinion, to deny the visa. Buchan’s assertions are nothing more than psychological terror for young people who are grappling with their sexuality and family acceptance. The fact that he represents quackery when he asserts that he can cure anyone of being gay is reason enough to deny a visa.”
Pastor Angus Buchan is still due to speak at five other locations in England, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
He is also running the infamous Mighty Men Conference, at the end of August, at Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire.