.- The Archbishop of Glasgow condemned, this week, the decision to discipline nine firefighters for refusing to hand out safety leaflets at a gay pride march in June, reported The Universe.
Archbishop Mario Conti described the disciplinary action against the Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service staff as "dismaying." Some of the firefighters had argued that it would be embarrassing for them to turn up in uniform to the event, while others claimed it would contradict their moral beliefs.
The nine firefighters have been ordered to go for intensive diversity training. One of the officers was demoted, which included a £5,000 loss in salary. The others have all received official written warnings.
"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,” stated Archbishop Conti, who said he understood the firefighters' concerns.
He said the officers’ behavior did not put into question their competency or commitment, nor were they were refusing to assist people in danger.
"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 stated.
The Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service said the officers’ refusal to hand out the leaflets represented a "fundamental breach of their core responsibilities," adding that they could not "pick and choose" to whom they offered fire prevention education.