Dozens of protesters gathered outside Vue Cinemas Piccadilly in London’s West End on February 8 to protest cancelled showings of a film advocating a cure for homosexuality.
The film, titled the Voices of the Silenced, follows the stories of 15 people emerging from gay lifestyles and is intended to “preserve and promote teachings on sexual ethics,” according to the filmmaker, Core Issues Trust, a Christian group.
When the cinema announced to the press its intention to screen the film, more than 600 people signed a petition calling for the showing to be cancelled.
Vue Cinemas Piccadilly apparently decided to cancel the showing at the last minute, stating that “in some instances, where we feel that an activity and its associated campaign and content are in direct contradiction with Vue’s values, we make the decision to refrain from allowing that activity to take place in our cinemas,” making sure to add that it was “not our intention to censor content.”
A spokesman for Stonewall, an LGBT charity group, commented that it was “disappointing that Vue Piccadilly would consider screening a documentary about so-called ‘conversion therapy,’” adding that such an “unethical and degrading practice has been condemned by all major U.K. health organizations. It’s shocking that Vue Piccadilly initially viewed this as a suitable film to screen.”
On February 8, protesters, many in support of the film and its content, gathered in front of the theater in anger at the decision, accusing Vue Cinemas of censorship and of violating free speech rights.
Michael Davidson, the leader of Core Issues Trust, commented that the cancellation was “regrettable and showed no regard for this section of the population,” further adding that although the film is indeed “very niche,” it reflects the feelings of a small but expanding sector of the public. Davidson also commented that he did not believe the film was offensive to the LGBT community and that it simply raised important issues from a different viewpoint.
Moreover, Andrea Williams, chief executive of the evangelical Christian Group, argued that Vue Cinemas’ decision to cancel the film’s showing was “tragic and disproportionate,” telling BBC that the issue at hand is a “freedom issue,” raising questions about the company preventing the viewpoints of Core Issues Trust from being heard.