In a significant victory for freedom of expression, cinema chain Vue has admitted that it was wrong to block the screening of an ‘ex-gay’ film, and settled in full a legal claim brought against them.
The feature-length documentary, ‘Voices of the Silenced’, profiles individuals who have successfully moved away from same-sex attraction behaviours, and question their “gay”identity.
The film was due to be shown to an invited audience of 120 at the Vue Cinema in Piccadilly in February 2018.
Following media coverage of the film’s content, however, the cinema abruptly cancelled the booking just the daybefore the proposed screening, claiming that the film might be “unlawful”.
In a letter to organisers, the cinema said:
“it has recently come to our attention that the film which was due to be screened does not accord with Vue’s fundamental values and beliefs, would cause serious and widespread offence and may be unlawful.”
Vue are committed with working with our local communities and to that end we work closely with Religious groups and Church's. The Cinema is a perfect location for services and celebrations. With Screens that can cater for 500+ it makes it an ideal location".
[extract from Vue website <15th August, 2018 > http://conferencing.myvue.com/events]
The cinema did not articulate how the film breached its fundamental values and beliefs, or explain the grounds for claiming that it might be “unlawful”.
‘Settled in full’
Although an alternative venue was eventually found for the screening, the organisers launched legal action against the cinema group, claiming breach of contract and seeking compensation for wasted expenses.
Last week, lawyers acting for the cinema group admitted breach of contract and settled the claim in full.
‘A victory for freedom of expression’
Responding to the news, Dr Mike Davidson, who produced the documentary, and represents the Core Issues Trust, said:
"I am delighted that freedom of expression has won today. We worked hard to create Voices of the Silenced because we believe that it contains a very important, highly-relevant message – people can change. This population have been failed by Mental Health Services because they are denied professional counselling respectful of their world view.
"Vue Cinemas has recognised that it was wrong to block us from showing the film. I hope that in future they won't fold under pressure from LGBT activists who want to suppress the voices of those who want to move away from same-sex attraction and behaviour."
‘Voices that need to be heard’
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which supported Dr Davidson, added:
"People like Mike need to be heard loudly and clearly in the current debate on sexuality and gender. Their experiences simply don't fit in with current LGBT ideology and narratives which claim that it's impossible for someone's sexual attraction to change."
"LGBT activists shouldn't be allowed to define or deny other people's life experiences or squeeze them out of the public debate.
"It is not compassionate to allow LGBT ideology to go unchallenged, nor to prevent people who want to see change in their lives from seeking help.
"I hope that the government starts to listen to the voices of people like Mike before pursuing any attacks on the freedom of people with same-sex attraction to seek change."