Homophobic christian refuses to be served by gay librarian

Publish Date: 06/11/2007

Active campaigner against gay adoption rights Joe Fairclough was visiting his local library in Leigh, Wigan when he told a gay employee that he wanted to be served by someone else because he was against 'gay marriage'.

Fairclough, 58, was instantly barred from the premises by the staff member he insulted, but returned to library the following day anyway. He was again told to leave but after refusing the police were called to remove him.

The father of three, was taken outside and later arrested for making homophobic remarks under a 'Public Order Offence' when two of the library employees complained that his comments caused them alarm and distress.

The semi-retired plumber was kept in police custody and interviewed for more than eight hours before being released at around 11.30pm without charge, due to insufficient evidence to prove that he intended to cause distress.

Peter Gascoigne, Executive Director for Leigh Library said that this wasn't the first time Mr Fairclough had tried to cause trouble at the library, including an occasion where he placed homophobic material on the library notice board together with a staged a protest and petition outside the building against the adoption rights of gay couples.

He said: 'Mr Fairclough demonstrated unacceptable behaviour on a number of occasions and in the end we felt we needed to take a sanction against him which banned him from using the library. It's not something which we've done lightly but we serve residents in the borough equally regardless of race, gender, sexuality, disability and we expect customers to treat our staff with the same level of respect.'

A Greater Manchester Police Spokesperson said: "We fully support Wigan council's stance on this issue. The library customer's behaviour was unacceptable and was the culmination of a number of incidents involving this man at the library over the course of a year. Following the latest reports that he had caused distress to members of library staff, we took the correct step by arresting him. We will rigorously investigate any hate incident reported to us. However, there was insufficient evidence to charge him with a public order offence and so he was released without charge.

"GMP will not tolerate hate crime and we would urge anyone who has been the victim of a hate incident to report it to us. We will listen and we will act. There are a number of ways such reports can be made to us, including via our website at www.gmp.police.uk