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Petition to ban preacher from speaking in Taunton gains thousands of signatures

Michael Overd has once been given a dispersal order banning him from Bridgwater town centre for 48 hours. Photo: ITV West Country

A Somerset man says he is facing persecution after a petition calling for him to be banned from preaching in Taunton town centre received thousands of signatures.

Michael Overd has been accused of making offensive and homophobic remarks to people on the streets.

He denies it, saying that he instead has become the victim of abuse.

You just can't ask a preacher to stop preaching because someone is alleged to have made a complaint and is unhappy. It's a case of whether the law's been broken or not, not someone's feelings.

– Michael Overd

Despite his protests, Overd has once been given a dispersal order banning him from Bridgwater town centre for 48 hours.

Earlier in the year, he won an appeal against a conviction for a religiously aggravated public order offence.

Overd says he does it because of his "care for people".

I care for people and love those people for them to hear the truth and for them to turn from their sin, turn from their unbelief, turn from what they know goes against the commands of God. So the truth must be preached...

I met a man recently who was a homosexual satanist. Hey, I was a hell-bound sinner as well. It makes no difference to me what your sin is in particular. I still shook his hand. I still loved the guy, cared for him."

– Michael Overd
Leon Da Silva says what Overd preaches is Credit: ITV West Country

Taunton shop manager, Leon Da Silva, who set up the petition to ban Michael Overd from preaching in the town centre, says what he says in public is "horrible".

There's a lot of people out there that are afraid to come out as gay or LGBT, whichever, and people like that make it increasingly harder for people like myself to be happy. You know and to come out and to be who you wanna be.

– Leon Da Silva

Overd has said that if he is banned from preaching somewhere, he will merely go somewhere else.

He says he believes he is just following orders, like he once did in the army, despite the obstacles.

The change.org petition to ban Michael Overd from preaching in Taunton town centre. Credit: ITV West Country

I have never picked a person out just walking by on their own business. I only, sometimes, respond to comments, vile words, accusations from passers-by.

There are many others of us now facing persecution in our country for being a Christian. There are other Christian preachers. You see, one man with God is in the majority. One man with God is in the majority. So I persevere. I plod on.

– Michael Overd
  • Watch ITV West Country reporter, Ben McGrail's full news report below: