A Scottish gay group has criticised an 'unholy alliance' of critics towards the nine Glasgow fire-fighters who were reprimanded for snubbing a gay pride march last June, after the Archbishop of Glasgow and a BNP spokesperson defended the public servants.
It comes after the religious thinktank Ekklesia warned of a growing overlap between the arguments put forward by the BNP and conservative Christians.
The Equality Network is the latest group to draw attention to the common ground, by speaking out against Archbishop Mario Conti and Glasgow BNP organiser Walter Hamilton, reports pinknews.co.uk.
Nine members of the Strathclyde Fire and Rescue service were enrolled on a diversity training course last week after refusing to hand out standard fire safety leaflets at the Pride Scotia march in Glasgow last month, citing moral reasons.
Walter Hamilton of the Glasgow BNP argued that this was ìpolitically correct bullyingî and that the fire-fighters had ìrefused to take part in the event on moral groundsî.
Echoing the BNPís comments, Archbishop Conti of Glasgow said: ìThat the officers concerned are being forced to undergo ëdiversity trainingí is alarming. The duty to obey one's conscience is a higher duty than that of obeying orders.î
A spokesperson for the Equality Network, a national network of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups and people in Scotland, said: ìWhen an organisation ñ school, hospital, or fire brigade - is providing a public service, it is bound by the ethics of public service not to discriminate against any members of the community it serves.
ìWe think that Strathclyde Fire and Rescue reacted appropriately to the fire-fighters who mistakenly thought otherwise.
ìWe would have reacted as strongly if fire-fighters had refused to staff a fire safety stall at a Roman Catholic school, and we are disappointed that the Archbishop feels that prejudice overrides public responsibilities.î
Despite being condemned by Britain's main Christian denominations, as highlighted by the thinktank Ekklesia, the BNP has attempted to ally itself with churches, whilst some Christians have taken on extreme views held by the BNP.
In April this year, Ekklesia pointed out that the British National Party (BNP) was seeking to gain ground in the local elections by seeking to exploit the mythology of a white ëChristian Britainí. It came after the party claimed that many of its members were Christians.
Members of the British National Party (BNP) have also been involved in setting up an organisation with a Christian label - the 'Christian Council of Britain' - and have campaigned alongside conservative Christians against controversial play Jerry Springer: The Opera.