A SCOTS council has apologised and is to pay out  £25,000 in damages  after cancelling a Scots evangelical Christian group's three-day conference "due to the beliefs" of a US speaker who compared homosexuality to incest.

The City of Edinburgh Council has admitted that they were wrong to cancel a Christian event on the basis of the "offensive" comments of the keynote speaker over homosexuality.

Destiny Ministries, who are based in Glasgow, had their three-day Surge Conference set for June, last year cancelled five months earlier after the council received complaints about one of their speakers.

The church had planned to host Louisiana-based preacher Larry Stockstill who, in his 2007 book He Teaches My Hands to War, wrote: “Don’t be deceived. Homosexuality is not normal behaviour and it is not accepted by God as an alternative lifestyle.”

The council said at the time it cancelled the event "due to the keynote speaker’s publicly-stated views about same-sex relationships which are, in the council’s opinion, offensive and discriminatory".

It said: due to the keynote speaker’s publicly-stated views about same-sex relationships which are, in the council’s opinion, offensive and discriminatory.

"We are committed to promoting diversity and equal rights for all. The proposed event did not meet the standards which we expect from those hiring and visiting our venues to respect and observe and the booking was therefore cancelled.

“The council is mindful of the need to protect freedom of speech, but will not allow its venues to be used as a platform for speakers who discriminate against particular sections of society."

In March, Destiny said it was suing the council on freedom of expression and freedom of religion grounds.

HeraldScotland:

Destiny said the council was offered a chance to reconsider prior to legal action commencing, while the council advised the church the booking would be honoured if Mr Stockstill was removed from the agenda.

Destiny's senior pastor Andrew Owen said at the time that the move to cancel the event at the Usher Hall was discriminatory.

A spokesman for the council said at the time that it would defend itself "vigorously" and added it would not allow its venues used as a platform for discrimination.

Now it has emerged the council has issued an apology and provided damages.

A City of Edinburgh Council spokesman has now said: “As a council, we are fully committed to promoting equality and diversity, and are keen to increase respect, tolerance and understanding.

“We accept that, in terminating Destiny Ministries’ hire of the Usher Hall due to the published religious beliefs of one of their keynote speakers, we did not properly take into account their rights in terms of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010.”

In his book, Mr Stocksill writes: "The second prevailing spirit that I see at work in our nation is a spirit of sexual immorality and perversion.

"Never before have premartial sex and homosexuality been so openly flaunted as they are today."

He describes as "disturbing" the "homosexual agenda that seeks not only to gain tolerance for an aberrant lifestyle, but also to proclaim it as a wonderful, viable alternative to heterosexuality.

He adds: "Sexual immorality - and homosexuality in particular - is so offensive because it mocks the image of God in man. The Bible clearly states that sexual relations are reserved for a man and a woman in the context of marriage."

He also talks of "spirits of perversion that focus on unnatural sexual relationships or acts".

He writes: "Incest is such a spirit, and so is homosexuality."

Destiny Ministries said that the council had acknowledged that it had “failed to meet its equalities duties to Destiny Ministries in terms of the Equality Act 2010 and therefore acted unlawfully".

Andrew Owen of Destiny Ministries said: "We hired the Usher Hall in 2020 to run our Surge Conference but the council mistakenly decided to cancel our booking for reasons that related directly to our religion and belief. We were shocked by this. "We asked the council to change its decision but it would not. After speaking to a range of people in the Christian community, we decided that this serious infringement of religious liberty and freedom of expression had to be challenged in the courts."

Brent Haywood, litigation partner of law firm Lindsays, who acted for Destiny Ministries said: "The council had cancelled the church conference based on complaints about the biblically-based views previously expressed by guest preacher, Larry Stockstill, on marriage and sexuality.

"The council had deemed such views to be'offensive and discriminatory', therefore effectively 'de-platforming' the speaker in the capital city.

“At the heart of this case is the right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion. Destiny Ministries is a Christian organisation which holds to orthodox biblical teaching.

"The cancellation of its booking was an obvious act of discrimination under the Equality Act, and an equally clear breach of the Human Rights Act."