Anti-gay preacher is first-ever banned from Ireland under exclusion powers

Controversial pastor Steven L Anderson has already been banned from most EU countries

Controversial US pastor Steven L Anderson leaves Botswana’s department of immigration in 2016 after being issued a deportation order. Photograph:  STR/AFP/Getty Images

Controversial US pastor Steven L Anderson leaves Botswana’s department of immigration in 2016 after being issued a deportation order. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

 

An American preacher with extreme anti-gay and anti-Semitic views has become the first person ever banned from Ireland by exclusion powers dating from 1999.

Steven L Anderson, a Baptist pastor based in Arizona, came to public prominence in 2009 when telling his congregation he had prayed for the death of then president Barack Obama and also praised the gunman who killed 49 people in an attack on a gay club in Florida in 2016.

His website stated he planned to preach to a congregation in Dublin on May 26th but did not specify the time or venue. An online petition calling for Mr Anderson to be banned has so far being signed by 14,000 people.

Immediate effect

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan signed the exclusion on Sunday in respect of Pastor Steven L Anderson with immediate effect under the Immigration Act 1999.

Section 4 of the Act allows the Minister to sign an exclusion order if he “considers it necessary in the interest of national security or public policy”.

“I have signed the exclusion order under my executive powers in the interests of public policy,” said Mr Flanagan.

Notoriety

The department later confirmed it was the first time an exclusion order had been effected in the 20 years since it was enacted.

Mr Anderson’s church has also gained notoriety for its history of anti-Semitic statements including denial of the Holocaust and for its extremist anti-gay preaching. His church describes homosexuality as “abominations which God punishes with the death penalty”.

The Irish Times first reported the intended visit by Mr Anderson last month and the online petition organised by Changing Attitude Ireland. The Church of Ireland liberal group said the “the notorious anti-gay pastor” had been invited to Ireland by Northern Irish Baptist preacher Stuart Houston.

Petitioned

Separately, a number of LGBT plus organisations also petitioned Mr Flanagan to ban Mr Anderson.

The pastor, whose church has a literal belief of the King James version of the Bible, has already been banned from most EU countries, most recently the Netherlands, and from South Africa. He has also been the subject of an exclusion order in the UK.