A court has ruled in favor of the organizers of the 2018 Lancashire Festival of Hope in England after Blackpool Transport removed advertisements for the three-day festival from its buses.
“We sincerely apologise to the organisers of the event for the upset and inconvenience caused,” Blackpool Council and Blackpool Transport said in their public apology, according to The Blackpool Gazette.
An LGBT group had complained about Graham’s reported views on same-sex marriage.
The judge ruled that the council and bus firm had violated the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act by banning the advertisements.
“This is an important moment for religious freedom in the UK,” Graham said in a statement.
“We’re grateful to God for the final outcome of this case, and for what it will mean for churches and Christians across the UK in the years ahead. The Good News of Jesus Christ must be proclaimed.”
He added, “My prayer is that this case will encourage Christians to stand firm.”
Judge Claire Evans ruled at a Manchester County Court hearing in April that the council had cast aside “the right to freedom of expression,” according to the BBC.
She added that the council “gave preference to the rights and opinions of one part of the community without any regard for the rights of the claimant or those who shared its religious beliefs.”
Following the ruling, the Blackpool Council and Blackpool Transport must pay £25,000 (about $34,000) in “just satisfaction” damages and the festival team’s legal costs of £84,000 (about $116,000).
Council leader Lynn Williams issued a public apology accepting the court’s ruling that “the advertisements were not in themselves offensive.”
“We further accept that in removing the advertisements we did not take into account the fact that this might cause offence to other members of the public and suggest that some voices should not be heard,” Williams said.
“We also regret that we did not consult with the organisers prior to taking our decision.”
She added, “We accept the findings of the court that we discriminated against Lancashire Festival of Hope because of the religious beliefs of Franklin Graham and in doing so interfered with Lancashire Festival of Hope’s right to freedom of speech.”
The 2018 Festival of Hope took place at the Winter Gardens where Billy Graham had preached in 1982.
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