Homophobic fireman should have been challenged


The news that a fireman in Scotland who refused to hand out safety leaflets at a gay pride event had reached an out of court settlement with his employers was greeted with dismay by the National Secular Society today.

Commenting on the case, Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “The Strathclyde fire service should have seen this through. The case would have set an important precedent – that public service workers cannot pick and choose which section of the public they will and won’t serve. This is precisely what the Sexual Orientation Regulations are supposed to protect.

“The Islington registrar who refused to perform civil partnerships for same-sex couples lost her case a couple of weeks ago, and the fire service should have ensured that it was made clear that firemen, too, realise that even if they are religious, they have a duty to the whole community, not just the bits that they approve of.

“Although no life was threatened because this man refused to hand out safety leaflets, what if he, or his colleagues, now decide that they don’t want to deal with homosexuals at all? Who is to tell them they can’t now? This was a clear breach of the Sexual Orientation Regulations and the fire service’s cowardly backing down in the face of religious bigotry has done society and the law no service at all.”

20 January 2009