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Old 08-28-2006, 07:49 AM   #1
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Gay Coercion?

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Four firefighters are due before a disciplinary hearing over their refusal to hand out leaflets at a gay pride march in Glasgow.

Another five men, who are also based at the city's Cowcaddens fire station, had their cases considered last month.

All nine will be told later whether the fire brigade plans to take action.

Some of the men were opposed to attending the event on religious grounds while others did not think it was part of their core duties.

However, gay rights campaigners argue that firefighters are public servants who cannot be seen to discriminate.

The firefighters were reported by superior officers after the Pride Scotia march in June for disobeying orders.

A spokesman for Strathclyde Fire and Rescue confirmed Monday was expected to be the final day of the hearing and that it would then take senior officers several days before deciding what action to take.

"This will be the final stage of the evidence gathering," the spokesman said.

'No good reason'

Both the officers' employers and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have declined to comment on the matter until the investigation is complete.

Before last month's proceedings began, FBU Scotland chairman Roddy Robertson admitted it was a "highly controversial issue".

Scottish National Party MSP Fergus Ewing branded the decision to discipline the group as "unbelievable", claiming they were entitled to their private views.

However, gay rights campaign group Stonewall Scotland backed the disciplinary proceedings.

Its director Calum Irving said: "A modern fire service does a lot of community safety and trying to reach as many different parts as they can.

"Firefighters visit church groups and other community groups.

"There's no good reason why they should not have been engaged with the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, which a number of fire services across Scotland are doing very well."
link

One wonders what leaflets they would be handing out, and then go on to think about issues of freedom of association and the responsibilities of employment.
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Old 08-28-2006, 08:04 AM   #2
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However, gay rights campaigners argue that firefighters are public servants who cannot be seen to discriminate.
Exactly. If it is believed that they hold private views of contempt against gay people, how can it be expected that they have instilled the trust necessary to be a firefighter?

Historically, there is a lot of distrust between the gay community and public servants like policemen and firefighters, and I can only imagine the outrage if the police/firefighters had viciously opposed passing out leaflets to blacks or Jews. But since they're gay--and implicitly dirty/sinful--it's "religious freedom" that makes it okay to hate them? Why isn't it okay to hate blacks or Jews then?

Your headline is asinine, as well.

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Old 08-28-2006, 08:49 AM   #3
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Re: Gay Coercion?

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Originally posted by A_Wanderer

One wonders what leaflets they would be handing out
that's what i was wondering
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Old 08-28-2006, 09:10 AM   #4
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Re: Re: Gay Coercion?

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Originally posted by Headache in a Suitcase
that's what i was wondering
If I had to guess, some PR leaflet outlining how "progressive" they are, or a generic fire safety leaflet.

Chances are, their opposition had nothing to do with the leaflet and everything to do with the event.

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Old 08-28-2006, 09:23 AM   #5
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I would definitely agree, they are there to serve the entire community. It's not "coercion" to ask them to act in accordance with that expectation. After all, they wouldn't refuse to put out a fire in a gay person's home, would they?
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Old 08-28-2006, 10:38 AM   #6
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Forcing public servants, or anyone else, to attend a political parade and then also force them to hand out leaflets is appalling and ridiculous.

Wanderer makes a great point regarding the freedom of associations (which includes the freedom to NOT associate.)
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Old 08-28-2006, 11:12 AM   #7
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Re: Gay Coercion?

Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
One wonders what leaflets they would be handing out
probably something like:

"jesus loves you...in the butt"

or

"how to be gay: converting the hetero"

i simply can't imagine firefighters handing out fire safety material.
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Old 08-28-2006, 12:14 PM   #8
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Re: Gay Coercion?

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Originally posted by A_Wanderer
[
One wonders what leaflets they would be handing out,
I believe that they were standard fire information safety leaflets. Whilst I assume it doesn't constitute one of their core duties, it's normal for firefighters to attend and distribute such leaflets at local community events.
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Old 08-28-2006, 12:20 PM   #9
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These people are supposed to be serving a community. Their own personal beliefs shouldn't get in the way of this. They should have handed the leaflets out. They didn't do their jobs, thus they got fired.
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Old 08-28-2006, 01:00 PM   #10
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To me, it depends on what the leaflets are. If they are fire safety leaflets or something important like that, they should hand them out - at the entrances. I see no reason they should have to mill around in the parade handing out leflets.
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Old 08-28-2006, 01:10 PM   #11
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where i live, both the washington DC police department and the arlington and alexandria police departments have special LGBT liaisions who specialize in community relations -- there was a superb article on the WDPD liaison written last year that's might be quite illuminating on the subject.

[q]Forcing public servants, or anyone else, to attend a political parade and then also force them to hand out leaflets is appalling and ridiculous.

Wanderer makes a great point regarding the freedom of associations (which includes the freedom to NOT associate.)[/q]

it's their JOB.

no one is asking them to wave a rainbow flag and sit on a float in a parade. they are simply asking them to be present at a major cultural festival where the fire department can make themselves visible to a good 5-10% of the city's population.

this has nothing to do with freedom of association. this has everything to do with the Glasgow Fire Department fufilling it's obligation to protect all members of the Glaswegian community, no matter who or what they are. at any and all cultural festivals in the cities -- a Caribbean Festival, Gay Pride, Cinqo De Myo -- nearly all of the cities various social service departments set up booths and pass out information about their obligations to the community and seek to shake hands with people in order to create a good working relationship between themselves and the communities they serve. this is particularly important with police work, as people are far more likely to come forward and help in the solving (and prevention) of crimes if they feel as if the police are allies instead of adversaries, and thus the city as a whole becomes safer.

it was the FD's job to be at that parade. it will help them do their jobs better.

shame on the fire fighters who can't see past their own little petty prejudices.
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Old 08-28-2006, 01:18 PM   #12
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It's all dependent upon how clear their job duties are.

We've had similar controversies here in Canada, with pharmacists refusing to dispense morning-after pills, or municipal government staff refusing to perform civil gay marriages or provide gay couples with marriage licences. They cite that it's against their religion...a matter of conscience...so they can't fulfill their duties. I say if you can't do your job fully, then you're not qualified to do the job and you shouldn't be in it.

*edit: oops, Irvine beat me to the same point...and did it much better*
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Old 08-28-2006, 02:17 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by AEON
Forcing public servants, or anyone else, to attend a political parade and then also force them to hand out leaflets is appalling and ridiculous.

A political parade?
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Old 08-28-2006, 02:52 PM   #14
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i should add that the article i mentioned, which i really recommend reading (and there's great visual material to go with it), wasn't about one specific liaison to the BGLT community; it's about the whole separate unit, led by Officer Brett Parsons, that the WPD has designed to work with the gay community, just like they have a Latino Liaison Unit, an Asian Liaison Unit and a Deaf Unit.
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Old 08-29-2006, 11:08 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
where i live, both the washington DC police department and the arlington and alexandria police departments have special LGBT liaisions who specialize in community relations -- there was a superb article on the WDPD liaison written last year that's might be quite illuminating on the subject.

[q]Forcing public servants, or anyone else, to attend a political parade and then also force them to hand out leaflets is appalling and ridiculous.

Wanderer makes a great point regarding the freedom of associations (which includes the freedom to NOT associate.)[/q]

it's their JOB.

no one is asking them to wave a rainbow flag and sit on a float in a parade. they are simply asking them to be present at a major cultural festival where the fire department can make themselves visible to a good 5-10% of the city's population.

this has nothing to do with freedom of association. this has everything to do with the Glasgow Fire Department fufilling it's obligation to protect all members of the Glaswegian community, no matter who or what they are. at any and all cultural festivals in the cities -- a Caribbean Festival, Gay Pride, Cinqo De Myo -- nearly all of the cities various social service departments set up booths and pass out information about their obligations to the community and seek to shake hands with people in order to create a good working relationship between themselves and the communities they serve. this is particularly important with police work, as people are far more likely to come forward and help in the solving (and prevention) of crimes if they feel as if the police are allies instead of adversaries, and thus the city as a whole becomes safer.

it was the FD's job to be at that parade. it will help them do their jobs better.

shame on the fire fighters who can't see past their own little petty prejudices.
It`s not "their job" to go to a gay pride parade. The last time I checked a firefighter´s job was to help in emergencies.

To suddenly come up with new chores for them to fulfill is not right. It was a dumb determination to have firefighters handing out leaflets. Besides the fact that I would expect a firefighter to be overqualified to do that, I think someone else could have done that.

Boy scouts maybe?
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