MARK Drakeford said he is "sorry to see" an American preacher with controversial views on homosexuality given a "platform" to speak in Wales.

Evangelical missionary Franklin Graham is due to host an event at Newport's ICC Wales on May 21 as part of his God Loves You tour.

He has courted controversy in the past, however, for views that homosexuality is a "sin" - an opinion that has prompted angry backlashes and has led to some past events being cancelled, including one at the ICC in 2020.

In a statement, Mr Graham said he was "not coming to Wales to speak against anyone" but to "share a message of God’s love".

But in the Senedd today (Tuesday), Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price asked whether the upcoming event would "send out the wrong message".

"The Wales International Convention Centre is, this month, hosting the televangelist Franklin Graham, who has called gay men and women the enemy who are here to devour our nation, and who has even praised Vladimir Putin for his homophobic policies," he said.

"Now, Mr Graham may be entitled to his homophobic beliefs, but he's surely not entitled to be provided with a stage to air them at a convention centre that is 50 per cent owned by the Welsh Government.

"Does that not send out the wrong message from Wales... that says that homophobia and hate are somehow still acceptable?"

The comments from Mr Price, who is gay, coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia.

In reply, Mr Drakeford said "I regret the fact that the event to which Adam Price referred is going ahead, but the decision is not one for the Welsh Government".

He added: "We do not run that centre, and it's for those who are responsible for it to make those decisions.

"I'm sorry to see a person of those views being given a platform to express them here in Wales, and they absolutely do not reflect anything that the Welsh Government would be prepared to endorse or sanction.

"Instead, our plan, our LGBTQ+ plan for Wales, which we continue to work on and have had a very engaged set of discussions with members of that community and others on, aims to make us a genuinely LGBTQ+ friendly nation."

Franklin Graham responds to Senedd criticism

Following those comments by Mr Price and the first minister, Mr Graham said "those who falsely accuse me of sharing hate have obviously never heard me preach".

"While I certainly respect the rights of others to disagree with our religious beliefs, it is deeply concerning that public officials who are elected to represent their entire community would describe the traditional views that Christians have held for over a thousand years in Wales as 'hate' and actually use their office to speak against us and discriminate against our religious beliefs," he added.

Pointing to a previous legal dispute with local government in Blackpool, Mr Graham said "I would hope and expect that public officials in Wales will take note of this case and do their jobs reasonably and impartially and welcome people of all religious beliefs".

He added: "The God Loves You Tour is supported by Christians from 375 churches across Wales, and we have the same rights as everyone else to freely express our long-held religious beliefs."