A FORMER SNP leader has been branded “disgraceful” after repeating claims that moves to legalise same-sex marriage put Scotland in danger of “lurching down the road towards fascism”.
Ex-MP Gordon Wilson had been urged to make a public apology after sparking a major controversy with similar remarks last weekend.
Instead, he told a fringe meeting at the SNP conference in Perth that “essential freedoms” were at stake.
He cited the case of Adrian Smith, a housing trust employee in Greater Manchester who was demoted after commenting on his Facebook that same-sex marriage was “an equality too far”.
Mr Wilson said there was no doubt he had been “shopped” by one of his colleagues.
He continued: “Denunciation was a favourite tactic in Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and in the Soviet Union.”
He said the real issues were freedom of speech and conscience in a democratic society.
“This legislation will subvert both rights. We are in danger of lurching down the road towards fascism.”
He claimed equality laws were being used “as a steamroller to flatten those with a conscience”.
“Take one freedom away and it’s easier to take another. There is more at stake than you think. It’s not same sex marriage – it’s the essential freedoms of a western democracy.”
Edinburgh delegate Douglas Campbell, speaking from the floor, said Mr Wilson’s language was “absolutely disgraceful”.
“I grew up in fear as a gay man – fear of losing my job, fear of not getting promotion,” he said.
“This is a simple issue of equality.”
Chairing the meeting, SNP MSP John Mason had introduced the speakers, urging that the discussion should be conducted in a civilised and friendly manner.
The fringe meeting was attended by around 200 people.
Tony Giugliano, convener of the SNP’s Edinburgh City Association, who describes himself as a gay Catholic, had called for Mr Wilson to apologise for his “fascism” remarks.
After the fringe meeting, Mr Giugliano said: “As an Italian, I don’t take the word fascism lightly. It’s a word that should not be used. It’s completely irresponsible of the former leader to use such language.” Mr Wilson also warned the SNP could pay a price for introducing same-sex marriage.
He asked the meeting: “What is the real social crisis facing Scotland? An ageing population. The nation needs children.”
“Only man and a woman can naturally have children. Family marriage is the best way of bringing up children. That’s the law of nature. The SNP will vote today on whether it should overturn its longstanding opposition to Nato.
Meanwhile delegates at the SNP autumn conference in Perth will decide today whether the SNP should back taking an independent Scotland into Nato on condition that it would be able to remove its nuclear weapons.
A motion has been tabled by SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson, who warned last night that withdrawing Scotland from Nato would be like “pulling the plug on the radar” protecting the North Sea.