Scotland disciplines fire fighters for snubbing gay march

Troy Espera | September 01, 2006

Chief Brian Sweeney
GLASCOW — The chief officer of a Scotland firefighter brigade said nine of his officers "made a mistake" in refusing to hand out safety pamphlets at a Glasgow gay pride parade in June and should be allowed get on with their careers.

Chief Brian Sweeney told BBC Scotland: "They made a mistake, everyone is entitled to do that."

One of the fire fighters involved, a watch manager, is to be reduced to the rank of crew manager, losing about �5,000 in salary. The others have received written warnings about their behavior.

According to Scotland newspaper The Scotsman, the ruling was welcomed by gay rights campaigners but greeted with dismay by the leader of the Catholic Church in Glasgow, who claimed the officers had "legitimate concerns" about being the subject of jokes and taunts.

The nine officers from the Cowcaddens station in Glasgow were also ordered by Strathclyde Fire and Rescue to undergo intensive "diversity training" as part of their punishment, the Scotsman reports.

"This is a strong disciplinary action that is very serious, that's placed on their personal record file that puts them in a very difficult employment position, so this is not a mild slap on the wrists,� Sweeney told BBC Scotland.

He added that the men accepted they should have performed their duties at the event.

Roddy Robertson, the regional chairman of the Fire Brigades Union in Scotland, told The Scotsman the men could appeal against the verdict.

The gay rights campaign group Stonewall Scotland welcomed the verdict, saying public servants such as firefighters were for the benefit of the whole community.

"You cannot pick and mix based on the prejudice of employees, especially when you have got publicly funded employees,� Calum Irving, its director, told The Scotman.

According to BBC Scotland, Sweeney vowed to provide public protection irrespective of background.

"We won't permit and we won't promote any racism, any sectarianism, any bias to any gender, any sexual preference," he said. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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