[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 1 September 2006, 03:29 GMT 04:29 UK
Church supports gay-snub firemen
Strathclyde Fire and Rescue engines
All the firefighters have to undergo 'diversity training'
A Roman Catholic archbishop has given his support to nine firefighters disciplined for refusing to hand out leaflets during a gay rights march.

They will go on "diversity training" courses after refusing to hand out leaflets at the Pride Scotia event which took place in June.

Glasgow Archbishop Mario Conti said they "had legitimate concerns about being the subject of taunts and jokes".

He said in some cases their religious sensibilities would have been offended.

Archbishop Conti said: "We have followed this case with concern. "There was no question of these officers' competency or commitment being called into question, nor was there any suggestion that they were refusing to come to the assistance of people in danger.

'Lampooning the Church'

"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."

A couple after the Pride Scotia march
The Fire Service said it had a responsibility towards everyone

One of the firefighters involved was demoted from a watch manager to crew manager with a 5,000 salary cut.

The remaining firefighters were given a written warning, and all would undergo diversity training, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue announced on Thursday.

Archbishop Conti said the training was "alarming".

"The duty to obey one's conscience is a higher duty than that of obeying orders," he said.

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

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.

A fire service spokesman earlier said the firefighters' refusal was a "fundamental breach of their core responsibilities".

"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," they said.




SEE ALSO
Gay snub firefighters disciplined
31 Aug 06 |  Glasgow and West
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

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific