Unelected religious rep condemned for LGBTI comments

February 8, 2017

An unelected ‘religious representative’ has used his position on a Highland Council education committee to criticise the alleged ‘promotion of homosexuality’ in schools.

Alexander MacLean, a member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, also suggested that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people are bullied because they are “overt” and attract attention.

The comments were made during a report on the work by Highland Council to reduce bullying of LGBT pupils at school. Mr MacLean is one of three religious representative on the committee who have full voting rights under legislation passed by a Conservative UK Government in the 1970s.

Alexander MacLean, a member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
Alexander MacLean, a member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

Mr MacLean also said books referring to same-sex couples should be removed from Highland schools.

“Are these books really appropriate for young children?” he asked.

“They are promoting LGBT practices. The percentage of LGBT people in UK population is two per cent therefore the number of LGBT children must be very small in our schools.

“Many parents are concerned that their children are being exposed to the teaching of LGBT lifestyles which leave children confused and disturbed.

“Some of these parents do not know what they can do about their concerns so as a representative of this committee I bring this matter before you.”

He then went on to suggest LGBT young people attract the attention of bullies with their behaviour.

“LGBT lifestyles are now so overt that they attract attention and sadly one of the reactions against them can be bullying,” he said.

“We are certainly against bullying in our schools and elsewhere in our society, whether its against LGBT or any other group or class, but it appears the LGBT lobby is using the bullying of LGBT pupils to bring their agenda into our schools, promoting their lifestyle.”

Mr MacLean then added that the words “homophobic” and “transphobic” were removed from a recommendation supporting the work to reduce bullying, so that it referred to all types of bullies, but this was rejected by councillors.

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive
Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

HSS Chief Executive Gordon MacRae commented:

Today’s attempts to put religious dogma ahead of the needs of bullied gay and trans children is further evidence, if any was needed, as to why it is time to remove religious reps from all local Education Committees.

Un-elected religious representatives are able to exercise power without any responsibility. There is nothing to stop church leaders standing for election and to ask voters to support or reject their attempts to put religious dogma ahead of evidence based policy.

“I hope that Highlands and Islands MSPs will reflect on this latest salvo. Everyone who decides education policy should be accountable through the ballot box. MSPs can take action to remove religious representatives from Council and ensure there is no space for them on the proposed regional structures.”

Gordon MacRae, Humanist Society Scotland

Edited from a report by Emma Crichton in the Strathspey Herald.

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