By Gudrun Schultz

GLASGOW, Scotland, September 5, 2006 ( – Glasgow Archbishop Mario Conti has spoken out in support of nine firefighters who were penalized by the Strathclyde Fire and Rescue after they refused to staff a booth and hand out leaflets during the homosexual Pride Scotia event in June.

Archbishop Conti defended the men’s stance, saying they “had legitimate concerns about being the subject of taunts and jokes,” BBC News reported on Friday.

“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.

“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.”

Some of the men cited embarrassment at wearing the firefighter’s uniform at the event, the Guardian reported. Others said attending the event would go against their moral beliefs.

One of the firefighters, a watch manager, was demoted to crew manager as penalty and received a ₤5,000 cut in salary. The remaining eight men were ordered to undergo diversity training, after receiving a written warning. The diversity training requirement was “alarming,” said the Archbishop.

“The duty to obey one’s conscience is a higher duty than that of obeying orders.”

See previous LifeSiteNews coverage:

Glasgow Firemen Face Discipline for Refusing to Attend Gay Pride