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News – Offensive statue

October 2008

Offensive statue


On Tuesday 2 September at Gateshead Magistrates’ Court, lawyers for Emily Mapfuwa, supported by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), commenced a case against the Baltic Flour Mill Visual Arts Trust known as the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art following the exhibition of an obscene statue.

     The statue, which was displayed between September 2007 and January 2008, depicts Jesus with an erection, and is part of an exhibition of artwork by Terence Koh, a Chinese artist.

     At the time of the exhibition several people complained to the Baltic Centre after seeing the statue, but the Centre’s response was to say they had provided warnings about the potential offence the display might cause.

     In January 2008 Mrs Mapfuwa contacted the CLC and, with assistance from their lawyers, reported the statue to Northumbria Police, asking for an investigation. In May 2008 Northumbria Police concluded there was no case.

     The CLC is continuing to support Mrs Mapfuwa as she pursues a private prosecution. She argues that the statue of Christ outraged public decency and people who saw it were likely to be harassed, alarmed, or distressed.

     Andrew Ian Lovatt, representing the Baltic Arts Centre, indicated a not guilty plea and elected a trial at Crown Court. The Committal proceedings will be heard on 23 September. The CLC believes in freedom of expression but this statue served no other purpose than to offend Christians and to denigrate Christ.
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