AN SNP veteran is at the centre of a party row after being branded a ‘mean and angry bigot’ for his views on gay marriage.
Richard Lyle, who was elected to the Scottish Parliament only three months ago, is one of four Nationalist MSPs who have come under fire for expressing concern at the possible impact of new legislation.
Mr Lyle said he is only seeking protection for clergy and registrars who refuse to conduct gay marriage ceremonies.
Councillor Lyle was elected an SNP list MSP for Central Scotland in May. He continues to represent Bellshill on North Lanarkshire Council though he stepped down as the council’s SNP group leader in May.
The SNP Government is holding a consultation on the thorny issue of same-sex marriage.
Although legislation is not yet in the pipeline, one of the party’s MSPs, John Mason, has lodged a motion in the Parliament demanding that those asked to conduct wedding ceremonies should not be forced to do so.
Supporters of the motion were slammed by Nationalist MSP Alyn Smith who said: “What is in the small, mean, angry heads of bigots is a matter for them.”
Mr Lyle admitted: “I have had a number of abusive e-mails criticising me for signing this motion.
“However, I don’t feel threatened or persecuted by them and have replied to each one. After 35 years as a councillor, I have dealt with plenty of verbal abuse and I welcome debate.
“What saddens me is that a fellow MSP thinks I’m a bigot. That is not the case.
“Everyone has rights including the clergy and registrars who conduct wedding ceremonies.
“I don’t want to see them sued or disciplined if they refuse to conduct a same-sex wedding.”