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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Gay snub firefighters disciplined
A firefighter hands out leaflets - generic
Fire chiefs said community safety was a core responsibility
Nine firefighters who refused to offer safety advice to people attending a gay pride march have been disciplined.

A watch manager in Glasgow has been demoted to crew manager with a 5,000 salary cut. The remaining firefighters were given a written warning.

Strathclyde Fire and Rescue said all nine would undergo diversity training.

A spokesman said: "The nine now accept that they should have performed their duties. Their refusal was a fundamental breach of their core responsibilities."

The nine firefighters are based at Cowcaddens and were asked to distribute community safety advice to people attending the Pride Scotia festival in George Square on 24 June.

The fire service spokesman said: "Firefighters cannot, and will not, pick and choose to whom they offer fire safety advice.

"Strathclyde Fire and Rescue has a responsibility to protect every one of the 2.3m people it serves, irrespective of race, religion or sexuality."

The Fire Brigades Union in Scotland said it would be waiting until the individual members had been contacted before commenting.

Chairman Roddy Robertson said one option for the men would be to appeal against the verdict.

'Highly controversial'

Mr Robertson said: "With any disciplinary outcome, it could be subject to an appeal.

The duty to obey one's conscience is a higher duty than that of obeying orders
Archbishop Mario Conti

"But we have to wait until the members have been contacted.

"We would be unable to comment until the disciplinary process has been exhausted.

"If the members don't wish to proceed, then we can make a comment."

Before the hearings started last month, Mr Robertson said the issue had been "highly controversial".

Some of the firefighters involved had argued it would be embarrassing for them to turn up in uniform to the Pride Scotia event, while others claimed it would contradict their moral beliefs.

The decision to discipline the firefighters was described by the Roman Catholic Church as "dismaying".

Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow said: "We have followed this case with concern.

"They were asked, while in uniform, to hand out leaflets during a demonstration where they had legitimate concerns about being the subject of taunts and jokes, and in which in some cases, their religious sensibilities would have been grossly offended by people dressed as priests and nuns lampooning the Church."

He added: "That the officers concerned are being forced to undergo diversity training is alarming. The duty to obey one's conscience is a higher duty than that of obeying orders."

Watch a report on the case

Gay march snub crew's 'mistake'
31 Aug 06 |  Glasgow and West
March snub hearing for fire crew
28 Aug 06 |  Glasgow and West
Firefighters face discipline case
26 Jul 06 |  Glasgow and West
Crew reported over gay pride snub
18 Jul 06 |  Glasgow and West
Thousands attend gay pride march
24 Jun 06 |  Glasgow and West

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