A successful appeal to overturn a fake monk's ban on distributing anti-gay leaflets could encourage homophobic action, a support group said.

Damon Kelly was given a criminal behaviour order last year for harassing a lesbian couple in their home.

At Leicester Crown Court last week the order and a community sentence were removed with a curfew now in place.

The Leicester Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Centre said the appeal could encourage similar behaviour.

The 54-year-old, previously from Corby, Northamptonshire, has been distributing leaflets condemning homosexuality and other "works of darkness" since 2012.

The flyers were delivered to homes across England and said homosexuals were paedophiles, transgender people were "possessed by demons" and condemned contraception, sex outside marriage, "assisted fertilization", divorce, atheism, and more.

 

He also wrote to the online newspaper PinkNews, calling gay people the "Devil's disciples".

Danny Lavery, from the Leicester Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Centre, said the appeal could promote other homophobic abuse but admitted freedom of speech is important.

"His letters and flyers were the usual homophobic rubbish," he said. "His tone was harsh warning people against LGBT people, how homosexuality is wrong, that homosexuals are into bestiality and are paedophiles.

"People should have freedom of speech and freedom of religion but what he was doing was too far.

"It sends out the wrong message to anyone who is either questioning their own sexuality and to homophobes. He's been told it is okay - other people may want to follow him."

Initially Kelly, who wears black monk robes, was given a five-year Criminal Behaviour Order prohibiting him from delivering leaflets on religious, sexual or reproductive topics in England and Wales or from cold-calling.

The order, and a £60 victim surcharge, were removed.

A 12-month community order requiring him to do 170 hours of unpaid work has been replaced with a six-month curfew - without electronic monitoring - between 15:00 and midnight.

Speaking to the Leicester Mercury after the appeal, Kelly, of Dunoon, in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, said he would continue distributing leaflets and "Leicester hasn't seen the last of me."

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