American street preacher arrested in England for preaching during LGBT pride event

Police not releasing his Bible, Gospel tracts after release with no charges pending

American street preacher Ryan Schiavo was arrested in Canterbury, England, while an LGBT pride event was held on June 10, 2023.
American street preacher Ryan Schiavo was arrested in Canterbury, England, while an LGBT pride event was held on June 10, 2023. | Ryan Schiavo

UPDATE: 3:40 p.m. ET June 29: Schiavo told The Christian Post Thursday that he collected his Bible, microphone, speaker and tracts at the Canterbury police station. 


A street preacher who was arrested for preaching in Canterbury, England, while an LGBT pride event was being held is calling on Christians “not to back down and bow before” the LGBT movement.

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In an interview with The Christian Post, Ryan Schiavo, an American-born street preacher who typically spends about half the year in the United Kingdom, discussed his June 10 arrest. 

Schiavo told CP that he and a friend “went to Canterbury just to evangelize” as they often do, insisting that he was unaware that an LGBT pride event was taking place: “It was not until we arrived and … were headed into the city that we realized that there was an actual pride event going on and it was quite oppressive. I mean, there were rainbow flags, rainbow signage, a lot of people dressed in rainbow [colors] and rainbows painted on faces.”

“There was a band performing somewhere with what appeared to be LGBT singers, and musicians and it was very much in your face,” he added. As Schiavo shared Romans 1:18-32, which he summarized as discussing “God judging society because of wickedness” and “sexual immorality and homosexual behavior,” a crowd started to form around him. According to Schiavo, “There were two hecklers in particular that were making it really difficult for me, one was a guy and one was a girl.”

Schiavo described how “the guy, in particular, started following me around and literally circling me, following and screaming and cursing so that people could not hear me.” Eventually, Schiavo began having a one-on-one conversation with a girl who identified as a lesbian. As the two engaged in what he characterized as a “very productive, respectful dialogue,” he recalled that “five police officers came onto the scene at one time.”

“I saw two security guards who were actually set up and positioned before I even said a word. I saw them in the distance because they saw me with my Bible and speaker. It was almost like they were just prepared, waiting for me to say something because it was a pride event. And so, when the police came, three officers came to me at separate times.” 

He noted that one of the officers was “quite aggressive, unhappy, demanding, trying to incriminate me with the questions that he was asking and wanted to know exactly what I said.” The officer asked Schiavo if he said anything that “may have caused people to be offended” and expressed sympathy with the LGBT activists by asking, “Can’t you let them have their day?” 

“They have a whole month,” Schiavo replied. Acknowledging that the officer did not appear to appreciate the response, Schiavo detailed how the officer he sparred with and others began interviewing “supposed witnesses” before returning and asking, “Are you going to go somewhere else? Are you going to stop doing this?” When Schiavo responded by declaring, “I don’t know if I’ll stop, but the Word has to be preached,” Schiavo said the officer “went into a rage.”

“I think he already had the handcuffs on him. He was prepared, and he just very quickly threw my hands behind my back, crisscrossed them, and threw the cuffs on me very, very tight to the point where I had marks on my wrists from the handcuffs 50 hours afterward, into the third day, that’s how hard he cuffed me,” Schiavo recounted. “He and one of his colleagues took me down the street.”

Video footage of the moments following the arrest shows that when Schiavo’s friend requested that the officers provide a reason for the arrest, one of them accused the street preacher of violating a “hate-related public order” law that bars “discrimination.” Schiavo told CP that the police “don’t know anything that I said” but are “just going solely off of what people are telling them on the ground.” 

Schiavo also saw “police officers in an unmarked car” who were “honking the horn in celebration” as he was being taken to the police station, which he cited as an example of “the power of this agenda over here and how the police are fully behind it.”

While he was released from custody at 3:15 the following morning, he expressed concern that “they kept my Bible, my microphone, my speaker and my Gospel tracts. They held them, and they claimed that this is evidence that’s part of the investigation.”

Schiavo explained that “the Bible has no notes in it; it has no markings in it at all” and that “the speaker and the microphone are obviously neutral things. There’s no evidence there.” He remains uncertain as to why the police took his Bible, speaker and Gospel tracts, and found it strange that they took away his Bible while providing him a Bible to read in his cell. “I actually sat in my cell and I read the exact same passages in my cell that I just preached from in the street an hour earlier, which got me arrested,” he added. 

Reflecting on his experience, Schiavo stressed, “It’s very important right now for Christians not to back down and bow before this agenda. We are seeing the early signs of communism, cultural Marxism and the destruction of our freedoms.” 

“We are not living in a fair and impartial society in America or in the United Kingdom,” he warned. “And the last line of defense is not the political realm, it’s not the conservative media. It is the Church of Jesus Christ. And Christians have to be willing to suffer even if it means they lose their job, they lose friends, family doesn’t understand them or even if they are put in jail or beaten up or killed, etc. Because ultimately, our first responsibility is to the Lord Jesus and to the truth, not to our own satisfaction and comforts.” 

Schiavo encouraged Christians to stay the course and not abandon their principles in spite of the challenges they might face for doing so: “If we are not willing to suffer and lose things for the sake of what’s right, we’re going to continue to be overrun by these agendas.”

In addition to causing him to lose his Bible, speaker, microphone and Gospel tracts, Schiavo’s bail conditions bars him from returning to the city of Canterbury for 90 days and requires him to refrain from going to pride events for the remainder of June. While the officers did not believe his insistence to the contrary, Schiavo told CP that he had “never been to a pride event, ever” until the one in Canterbury that he accidentally stumbled upon. 

“I don’t go to pride events to preach. I generally avoid them. This is the first one I ever went to, yet they banned me from attending any others the rest of the month of June, which is pride month.” 

On June 16, nearly a week after his arrest, Schiavo updated CP via text message on the status of the legal proceedings stemming from his arrest: “I just spoke to the Canterbury police, and they said my case is now ‘No Further Action,’ which means I won’t be charged and my bail conditions have been dropped. I’m able to collect my Bible, speaker and microphone from the police station anytime.” 

In a subsequent message to CP, Schiavo provided an additional update: “In spite of the police officer who had interviewed me telling me on Friday that my Bible, microphone, speaker and [tracts] would be returned to me, I drove one hour yesterday to pick them up, only to be told that the interviewing officer never went through the proper protocol of releasing the items. Thus, I still don’t have them.” 

The following morning, the officer in question sent Schiavo an email apologizing that his items were not available and vowed to “look into what happened.” 

Schiavo was previously arrested in 2021 for preaching that homosexuality is a sin on the streets of London. Law enforcement cited a violation of Section 4A of the Public Order Act, which declares “a person is guilty of an offense if, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm, or distress, he — (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior, or disorderly behavior, or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive, or insulting,” as the justification for his arrest. 

Schiavo suggested that the situation in the U.K. has worsened in the past two years: “Without question, it’s worse. … When the police bring politics into their work and they bring Cultural Marxism and far-left agendas into their work, they are incapable of being unbiased anymore, and that’s what’s happening here.” 

While he clarified that “not all of them” have begun “bringing the politics and the leftist Marxist, communist agendas into their policing” and that some police officers remain impartial, Schiavo asserted that “partiality was the last thing” on the mind of the officer who arrested him nearly two weeks ago: “He played his hand in the beginning by saying, ‘Can’t you just let them have their day?’ He had absolutely no regard for my freedom of speech, none, and many of them have gotten like this.”

An image shared with CP documents a police cruiser with the words “Police with Pride” written on the front passenger door along with the phrase “No H8,” a common refrain of LGBT activists. The back passenger door of the police cruiser had rainbow colors sandwiched in between the phrases “Kent Police” and “Valuing Difference.” 

A British police cruiser decorated to show solidarity with LGBT pride.
A British police cruiser decorated to show solidarity with LGBT pride. | Ryan Schiavo

Even before his most recent arrest, Schiavo has witnessed the increasing hostility toward traditional views on human sexuality in the public square in the U.K.: “In less than four years, I’ve been stopped at least 25 times.”

“There have been many times where I’ve actually fled an area because I thought the police were coming and as I was leaving the area, I saw the police car coming. So, it could have been 40-50 encounters easily that I could have had in the last four years. This is just in less than four years. And in that four-year period, I’ve spent less than two years out of those four years in this country. So, in less than two years, I’ve been stopped by the police at least 25 times all over the country. That’s how bad it’s getting.”

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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