Christian Concern http://www.christianconcern.com/, (legal center) of the UK defended Tony Miano after his arrest for alleged "homophobic speech" while witnessing and preaching publicly in Wimbledon.
See YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMmq84eBM8k.
Here is Tony's letter to Parliament: http://www.crossencounters.us/2013/07/tonys-letter-to-parliment.html, with full unedited text below:
Thursday, July 4, 2013
Tony's Letter to Parliament
I am writing to you because I was arrested on a London high street on Monday (1st July) for preaching from the Bible. I believe my arrest has great significance in light of the current passage of the Government's Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.
I was arrested under Section 5 of the Public Order Act for using "homophobic" language which was deemed offensive. The language I used was not homophobic, as I was not promoting fear or hatred of homosexuals. I was simply explaining a passage in the Bible which speaks of sexual immorality and that people should abstain from it (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12). I did not speak solely about homosexuality as a form of sexual immorality but also about any kind of sex outside of marriage between one man and one woman, as well as lustful thoughts. All of these are considered mainstream Christian positions and have been taught and believed by Christians for thousands of years.
After being questioned by police officers on the street, I was taken to the local police station and arrived there at 4:50PM. Here I was searched, my property was removed from me and my camera was booked as evidence. I was then photographed, a sample of my DNA was taken and my fingerprints were taken. I was placed in a cell with a toilet but no toilet paper. The investigating officer offered me a £90 ticket which would ensure my immediate release and an assurance that I would be able to return to the country (I am a US citizen). He told me my solicitor was on the way to the station and I said I would like to wait to talk to him before making a decision.
Later in the evening, I met my solicitor and with him present I was interviewed by the investigating officer. I was advised that the interview was being recorded and that I could refuse to answer questions but that this may be held against me in court. The investigator asked me to give my account of what happened before asking specific questions. He asked me, among other things, whether I believed homosexuality was a sin. He also asked me: "So if someone you knew as a homosexual came up to you and asked you for a favor, you'd quite happily offer them that favor would you?"
It was unnerving to be questioned about my Christian beliefs and I was made to feel that my thoughts could be held against me. The two final questions were: "Do you believe you are 100 per cent right in what you did today?" (I answered yes) and: "If you were to go back there tomorrow, would you do the same thing again?" to which I also answered yes.
After the interview my solicitor had a conversation with the investigating officer outside of my hearing. When my solicitor returned, he told me that the investigating officer said my answers to the last two questions left him no choice but to seek prosecution. I was then advised by my solicitor that I would likely spend up to 24 hours in jail and that I would go before the magistrate the following day. He also advised me that while the magistrate could allow me to return to the United States, he could order me to stay in the United Kingdom until the completion of the trial, which could be three to four months. After that I was escorted back to my cell. I was then given, upon request, a Bible to read - the very book whose teachings led to my arrest!
An hour or so later, the investigating officer entered my cell and told me the inspector had decided to release me with no further action. At midnight I was released from jail, after just over seven hours in custody. I asked the desk sergeant if I could donate Bibles to the station. He welcomed the offer and said I could leave them with the desk officer at the front of the station. My solicitor then drove me to my place of residence.
I felt I should write and inform you of these events, since it was very distressing to be arrested and interrogated for openly expressing my deeply held Christian beliefs. I began my message by assuring the people that mine was not a message of hate but of love.
I don't expect you to share my beliefs but think you will agree that I, and everybody else, should have the freedom to express those beliefs without fear of reprisals from the Government. My freedom was taken away from me simply because someone didn't like what I said. Now that your nation has begun down this slippery slope, where will it end? Will people one day be arrested for disagreeing with the political party in power? And what assurance will the people have that it will stop with speech? It did not stop with speech in 1930s Germany. Many of your countrymen sacrificed their lives to end the tyranny that began with the abandonment of free speech. Nations that do not learn from history are destined to repeat it.
For these reasons I urge you to do what you can to halt the Bill's progress before freedom of speech is not just shut down on the streets (as it was for me) but also in churches, universities, schools and homes.
Please be assured of my prayers for God's blessing on you in your important role as a public servant.
Police Interrogation of Tony Miano (Transcript)
Rough Draft of Transcription
Date of Interview: 1 July 2013
Date of Transcription: 4 July 2013
Tony Miano in Italics
Police Interviewer in Regular Script
Michael Phillips, solicitor for Mr. Miano italicized and capped by “LR:”
This interview is being tape recorded, and... [unclear] Wimbledon police station. And there are no other officers present. We are at Interview Room Three at Wimbledon Police Station... and I am interviewing... Could you please state your name and date of birth?
Anthony Edward Miano, date of birth is Feb 22, 1964.
Thank you very much, also present is?
LR: Michael Phillips, [unclear] legal representative.
Thank you very much. The date is the first of July, 2013 and the term is 21:08, so 9:08 in the evening. Okay. So, Tony this interview is being tape recorded so should this ever go to court one of the tapes will be sealed and it can be used in evidence should this ever get that far.
Okay, Brilliant. At the time of your arrest today, by PC Green, which was at 16:50, you were cautioned by him. Do you remember that? Do you remember him saying something along those lines? You’re under arrest and hence I’m cautioning you? Do you remember that?
You’ll have to define cautioning.
Basically what it means is he would have said something, I can repeat it to you, and you tell me if you recognize it. He would have said to you, you do not have to say anything but it may harm your defense if we later rely on this in court. Anything you do say may be given evidence.
Also I appreciate this isn’t your country of origin and you haven’t been arrested before by us. So I will explain caution to you, okay? The first part is, I’ll break it down into three parts, okay? The first part is you don’t have to say anything. Okay, that is your legal right in this country, you can sit here in silence if you want for this interview. I’m going to ask you some questions so if you do wish to take that right then I would appreciate it if you could just say no comment. The reason for that is at least I know one, you’ve at least understood the question and two, you’ve heard it.
Okay. The second part is, should you not say anything here, and give a defense should this ever go to court, the court might, may draw its own conclusions, sorry, as to why you didn’t just tell me now. Okay?
And the last bit is, as I said to you in the beginning, this interview is being tape recorded. One of these tapes will be sealed, and should this ever go to court that seal will remain around it until the court and be opened in front of your legal representation and the criminal prosecution service, okay, and they can play it in court as evidence. Okay?
Okay, happy to understand caution?
Brilliant. Are you happy? [directed to legal representation]
LR: I’m pleased.
Marvelous, alright. As I said to you earlier on, you were arrested by PC Green at 16:50 for a Section 5 Public Order Act with a homophobic aggravating factor. Okay? Do you want to tell me what you were doing outside Centre Court Shopping Center today at that time?
I was preaching the Gospel.
Okay. Were you by yourself?
I was with several friends, a few from the United States and a few from here in the London area.
Okay, and how long have you been preaching the Gospel for?
I’m sorry, as in in this country, as in recently?
During this visit since June 22nd.
So since June 22nd, okay yeah. Sorry just to make you aware as well I will be making notes nothing to worry about just for my benefit later on.
You’ve been here since June 22nd, is that right?
Okay, and you’ve been preaching the Gospel. Is there any specific part of the Gospel you were preaching?
All of it.
Okay, and you’re starting from the beginning and working your way through?
Yes, I will preach through different passages of Scripture. And part of proclaiming the Gospel is sharing the law of God, bringing people to a knowledge of their sin so that they will understand their need for a savior.
Okay. With regards to the group of people. Is it, would you, break it up into sections and do a bit each or would you do do the whole book and someone else would do the whole Gospel? Or does it how does it work?
Each person preaches basically until they’re done. They preach the Gospel message as they feel so lead to do. And then someone else would start from the beginning and preach their own message.
Okay, and obviously, one of the things that caused a scene was the cameras. Do you film there?
What’s the purpose of filming the preaching?
For our own protection, for one, just in case accusations are made against us.
Like this, yes. Just in case there’s any type of physical assault against us, so that we can document that as well. Also for the edification of other Christians. We use these videos to train other Christians how to share the Gospel. So those are basically the reasons.
Okay. So if we talk about sort of the incident surrounding your arrest. Okay, do you remember specifically what happened when you were arrested? All of the events leading up to your arrest? Anything stand out as the reason why you think you were arrested? Not necessarily that you agree with why you were arrested I just want.
LR: [unclear] if you could just give the lead up to what happened?
Sure, I was preaching from a passage of Scripture in 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4.
You have to let me write that down.
I believe the passage was verse 1 through I think verse 11 or 12.
Verse 1 through to 11/12.
In that passage of Scripture, the apostle Paul encourages the Thessalonians to abstain from all forms of sexual immorality. And to live a holy life, that is consistent with a life devoted to God and the holiness of God.
Okay, so you were preaching this chapter, or these verses from this chapter?
Okay, and then what happened?
And I was preaching about various forms of sexual immorality. Both homosexual and heterosexual, including fornication, which is sex prior to marriage.
And including adultery, not only the cheating on a spouse but also looking at someone with lust. For Jesus said whoever looks at a person to lust after them, that person has already committed adultery with that person in their heart. And that all forms of sexual immorality is sin in the eyes of God. Sin that God will judge, but sin that also God will forgive. Now, prior to being able to get to the good news of the Gospel, I was stopped. So I was still working my way through the law of God and the consequences of sin, before I, I was stopped before I could get to the good news of how someone could receive forgiveness for that sin and the free gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.
Okay. And you were stopped by? Do you remember who stopped you?
Well Officer Green, Constable Green. There were several officers with him, I didn’t get all their names. One officer was named Ed.
Yeah, that would be PC Green.
Okay, who else am I thinking of? Officer Green was the officer who brought me in?
Yeah, his name is Ed yeah.
Oh well there was another officer.
Yeah, it would be PC Bailey [unclear] I would imagine. But, prior to your arrest, do you remember anyone who may have made any comments to you taking exceptions as to your comment?
Okay, talk me through what happened in that instance.
Well, first there was an older gentleman who told me F off. I won’t say exactly what he said. But told me to F off as he was getting on the bus behind me. And then a woman, presumably, the woman who apparently called the police, she likewise told me to F off as she was walking into the mall and I don’t recall exactly what I said to her. But at one point I asked, I would love to dialogue with you about this.
And that’s when she walked into the mall and she came back down a short time later. It looked like she was filming with her phone [unclear]. And shortly after the police arrived.
Okay, the lady in question, I would make the assumption, I haven’t met her, but I would make the assumption, as you have, that she is the complainant in that instance. She, I won’t bore you, well I say bore you, but I won’t read [unclear] the whole statement because it just details the fact that she was there, at around today’s date outside Center Court Shopping Centre at around 2:30. Okay? She says that she was a pedestrian, so she was on foot. Okay, and she walked out of the shopping center exit near to Wimbledon train station. Is that in relation to where you were, do you feel?
That Wimbledon train station is over the hill from where we were. We were standing...
There is an entrance just by the center court entrance.
Oh there is? I wasn’t aware of that. The entrance I’ve always come out of...
The one at the top?
The one across the street from my favorite restaurant out here. [unclear restaurant name] I didn’t know there was one closer to the actual mall.
Okay well yea, I mean.
I just recall her walking down the hill in our direction, in my direction, and then walking towards the center court? [unclear] Yeah, she was walking toward that entrance.
And at about 2:30 the first time she recognized you, she thought nothing of it at the time. Her intention was to go out to try and obtain tickets for tennis.
Yeah, she came back at half past four and this is when the incident occurred in your direction. She’s just detailing how the incident occurred. Sorry, it was at ten past four. She says that she walked back down to the entrance to centre court, which is the shopping centre, not center court tennis, and she noticed that what she described as a male who had originally been speaking about God on the microphone was now filming another male in a red t-shirt. Does that sound about right to you?
Well, my friend who [unclear], he was filming the preaching.
I mean your t-shirt is burgundy.
Yeah, it’s not a t-shirt but that was me.
She says again thinking nothing of it, she walked by. She got about five metres from the man in the red t-shirt and she heard him say, “homosexuality is a sin, we all know it’s wrong.” Did you say that?
Words to that effect, yes.
Okay, she says she was extremely offended by this, which caused her a lot of distress. She said the microphone the man was speaking into was attached to a loudspeaker and could be heard by a large captive audience. She said she mouthed, “f... you.”
I’m glad she admitted to that.
Yes, and she says, for the benefit of this we are going to say you are, was there anyone else wearing a red t-shirt?
No it was me.
Okay, so she says that you said this, and you said, “tell me to fuck off, will you come and have a discourse with me?”
I said words to that effect, that I would like to have a dialogue with you.
I wouldn’t have used the word discourse.
Okay. She says that she was with another person who was around [unclear], she saw that she was angry and took her by the arm and led her away. They apparently went to have a discussion about it. And she said due to the man making homophobic statements, saying homophobic statements in the public place, that she felt an offense had been committed and she called the police. While she was waiting for them to arrive, she said you said, “God wants the world to be ordered as one man and one woman, heterosexuality. Homosexuality, lesbianism, and fornication is wrong. God knows that, you know that. Will any man here man up and agree with me or that girl earlier?”
That’s not what I said.
That’s not what you said.
No, particularly at the end.
I did use the phrase, “man up.”
So you said, “man up.”
Right, but that is in reference to a man who had walked by and cursed at me. And I asked, in general, when will the men of this community, man up and stand by their convictions? Basically come and talk to me instead of just coming by and cursing me. I didn’t say when will people man up and agree with me. I didn’t say that.
So you just wanted to...
I wanted, men to instead of whispering as they’re walking by, to stop and to have a dialogue and to stand by their convictions and actually talk about it.
Okay. So basically as you said earlier, to spread God’s word in a sense. You wanted essentially to teach, well I can’t remember the exact words earlier on, but you know, preach the Gospel.
So, she also says that these, I can’t even pronounce it, vitriolic statements, again caused me alarm and distress. And she says, while this was happening, a man with a gray [unclear] started to film her reactions to the words. She said that she felt intimidated by that. And that’s basically, she just goes on to describe you. She says a white male, overweight.
He is, he’s working on it though.
Well, no. She actually says the red t-shirt. I wouldn’t suggest you’re overweight. [cordial laughter]
Oh, I am too. I need to lose some weight myself.
She says about late to mid 50s.
[unclear] Wow, close, that’s pretty much.
She’s a bit harsh. American accent and she said she’s never seen you before. And she said it last about 5-10 minutes. Okay, so I’ve read you the statement, what do you think about that? How do you feel about what she said?
I feel she was trying to intimidate us by filming us.
So it’s interesting that she said she was intimidated by being filmed. The camera was, I don’t recall how long the camera was actually on her because I was preaching, but I do distinctly recall her, her, filming me. And saying to her that I hope she will watch the video and listen to it and come to repentance and faith in Christ. Or words to that effect.
And what was your... I appreciate you saying this to me earlier. What was your sole intention by doing this today?
My sole intention, my faith, my Christian faith teaches me to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. There is nothing more loving that I will ever do for another human being than to warn them of God’s wrath to come against sin and point them to the only one who could forgive their sin, and that’s Jesus Christ.
So my intent was to love people with the Gospel.
Okay, and you believe through, your, your religion, that homosexuality is a sin?
Yes, I do.
How do you feel... Members of the public may feel?
[unclear interruption] LR: Can we just, I think it’s important just to say, to distinguish between homosexuality as an individual, and the sin itself. Would you be able to just distinguish between that. Is a homosexual person evil, they have...
No, a person who tells a lie, a person who steals, a person who harbors bitterness or resentment or hatred in their heart, a person who is discontent with what God has given them in their life and covets what other people have, a person who takes God’s name in vain, who is selfish, a person, if a person sins against God they face the same righteous judgement from God as any person committing any other sin.
LR: So what, just to recall the distinction between the act itself and person who has the inclination to do the act. So they’re not the same. You’re not saying that person is an evil person just because they have an inclination to be homosexual. For that reason alone.
I’m not sure I understand the question. The point is that all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That’s why when I was speaking out there today, I wasn’t speaking exclusively about homosexuality. I was speaking about fornication of any kind. Heterosexual fornication, heterosexual adultery, looking at a person with lust, whether or not you’re married, any form of sexual immorality is a sin before God.
Okay. Let me give you an example just for my benefit. You’ll have to excuse my ignorance regarding religion. You know... If two males walked past you holding hands, and in your view apparently homosexuals, would you consider them a sinner?
Okay, that is what I wanted to know. So in that sense of the word, in that respect, do you feel what you were doing today, preaching the gospel, making the comments about homosexuality being a sin, do you think that that could have upset people?
I think it could upset people because people love their sin. I think if someone walked by when I was talking about lying, and they had just lied, someone would be upset with that. I think if I was talking about hating another person and someone was harboring hatred in their heart towards someone else, they could be upset with that. That’s because people do not like to hear that they have sinned against a holy God.
Okay, the issue as well is that not everyone is religious, so not everyone would see homosexuality as a sin, would they?
I don’t think that’s relevant. Because God sees it as a sin.
No? Okay. [unclear]
We don’t determine... excuse me?
So you [unclear] are you offended by it because you are religious?
Am I offended by what?
Homoesexuals don’t do anything to me.
They offend God. Just as...
Okay. It doesn’t offend you.
Just as my sin offends God.
It doesn’t offend you?
No. I harbor no bitterness or resentment...
Toward homosexuals or...
That’s basically what I was getting at. You don’t have any, you don’t have any...
I don’t have any anger towards them.
And you never discriminate against them?
So if someone you knew as a homosexual came up to you and asked you for a favor, you'd quite happily offer them that favor would you?
The word of God tells me to love your neighbor as myself.
So if a homosexual walked up to me and said, I’m hungry and I need something to eat. I would walk them to the nearest restaurant, give them something to eat, and share the Gospel with them because I love them.
Okay, so. Tell me what you were doing today then. It’s apparent from this statement we have, that you have upset someone. Okay. She’s saying that what you said she found distressing, okay? Someone else has told you to “F off” as you put it. A gentleman, so whatever you were saying at that time people obviously found distressing I don’t know.
There’s also, according to the definition of terms we’re using, it’s kind of distressing to tell someone to F off, isn’t it?
Well I’d agree with you, a hundred percent. Because as far as I understand, swearing in a public place, isn’t acceptable, yeah?
Yeah. Obviously I can only work with the information I’m given today.
Sure, I understand. I’m not looking for a pound of flesh from anyone.
No no no, I appreciate that.
I’m not looking for any retribution.
I can assure that if you had told me at the time that she had told you to F off the same thing would have happened to her. Because as far as I’m concerned, two wrongs don’t make a right.
I appreciate that.
The issue obviously as well, is, well, you know, I appreciate what you’re saying regarding your beliefs and the fact that you were preaching the Gospel. As I said to you earlier, not everyone is religious. Okay, so they don’t have an understanding as you, as you obviously as you do of the Gospel.
I certainly don’t. So, do you accept that what you were saying, is likely to upset some people.
No, I don’t accept that. Because I’ve also seen people with tears in their eyes come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, realizing that they’ve sinned against God. Regardless, my understanding is that what the word of God says about the nature of man is that regardless of what a person expresses with their mouth, or with their demeanor, or with their body language, even if they would say that they were offended or insulted does not necessarily mean that’s the case. It could very well be that they’ve been convicted but their heart and they don’t want the preacher to see that.
And that’s always my hope.
My hope is that that lady will go home tonight and she will turn from her sin and put her trust in Jesus Christ the Lord for her salvation. That one day I will get to worship with her side by side in heaven.
Okay. And, last question I’ve got for you, is do you think what you did was acceptable in a public place...
With, I don’t know how many people walking past you during the day bearing in mind the tennis championships are on, do you feel that what you did, making the comments you made, is 100% acceptable in a public place?
Not only 100% acceptable, but commanded by God.
I’m commanded by God to love people and to proclaim the Gospel to as many people as I can for as long as I can.
Will you do this again tomorrow?
If I have the opportunity, yes.
Okay. Okay. I’m quite happy about, I’ve asked the questions I need to ask. This is your interview, so this is your opportunity to give your account of what happened today leading up to your arrest, anything else you wish to, you think’s relevant to the case. This is your opportunity to give it so I will offer you the opportunity now before I turn the tapes off. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I don’t think so, I think we’ve covered everything.
LR: Just a couple questions I had. What would you say to anybody that said you were trying to insult people.
I would say they’re wrong.
LR: And why would you say that?
The reason for being out there. The reason I flew all the way from Southern California to London, was to love people and share the Gospel with them. I hope to be used by God to see people come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. There’s never intent to insult, there’s never any intent to inflame. Of course people aren’t going to agree with everything I say, just as I don't agree with everything other people say. But my intention, is, to love people as others loved me and shared the Gospel with me so that I could receive forgiveness of my sin and the free gift of eternal life. That’s why I came to London last year during the Olympics. That’s why I came this year to Wimbledon. And that’s why I hope I can come back as many times as possible. Because I love this country and I love the people of this country. And I don’t want to see anybody perish in their sin.
LR: And [unclear] just about the cultural context. Some people might want to say, well that’s America that’s more religious. This country is less religious. What would you have to say?
Well, certainly regarding the issue at hand there’s no difference between our two countries, culturally. I’m not uninformed as to where your country is regarding this issue because my country is in the same place. And the message I brought today, and the message I’ve brought about many different subjects are no different than the messages I preach to the people in my own country. Because the issues are all the same.
Okay, fair enough. Yeah, happy?
Okay, as I’ve said, I’ve got nothing else to ask you. Obviously I’ve covered everything I need to cover. We’ll just establish that you don’t feel like you’ve done anything wrong. You’ve come over here, you’ve come to share your love of God. You’ve come to share, to preach the Gospel to people...
Yeah, certainly not going to say that it’s only certain people. And you know, you feel that what you’ve done is not necessarily upsetting people but in fact helping people. Would you agree with that?
So, I appreciate your views on it. Okay. Is there anything else you wish to say?
Not at this time.
Okay, brilliant. In that case, this interview is concluded at 21:34, on the first of July 2013.