Three more Orange Order parades have fallen victim to the growing anti-Protestant discrimination that is taking over our City.
Now is not a good time to be a Protestant living in Glasgow. The simple act of walking down a street is now effectively banned at certain times. Wearing an item of clothing that identifies you as a Protestant will lead to you walking a gauntlet of bigoted protestors who object to your presence simply because you are not of their faith. Disappointingly, this is aided and abetted by Police Scotland and the SNP led Glasgow City Council. We will stand up to this bigotry, and we won’t let intolerance win. We support a Scotland of all faiths and none, where people live together in mixed communities. We support Scotland having religious differences, without these religious divides.
We now have groups operating in Scotland who want to bring to our cities the religious divides that continue to blight Ireland and Northern Ireland. Where it is quite common to have entire communities segregated by religion over there, this is not something that has been Scotland. However, groups like the anti-Protestant ‘Call it Out’, are openly campaigning for entire streets to be off-limits to Protestants who would simply like to quietly walk down it on their way to their own church.
The Orange Order has made its position quite clear, we are an organisation that proudly supports and promotes our own heritage, religion and culture. Being pro-Protestant does not make us anti-Catholic. We do not take pot-shots at the Roman Catholic faith. We do not take to the streets to protest at their presence in our communities. We do not speak out in the media against them. But we as Protestants in the Orange Order suffer all these things. And it is only because of our faith. This is religious discrimination.
Being banned from streets at certain times on religious grounds, having people line streets to intimidate you – all because of the religion you follow? This is persecution, nothing less. And it is facilitated by Police Scotland and orchestrated by Glasgow City Council.
Police Scotland claim that they can’t resource the parade and protests. But they manage to police pro-independence parades when there is a unionist protest. They manage to police political campaigning when there are counter-protests. They managed to police a recent republican event with terrorist banners on show. But they have stepped in to say that the cannot manage to police Protestant parades, unless we agree to abide by rules of religious segregation, unless we agree to imposed religious divisions where certain streets are no-go zones to Protestants?
Is this the modern, inclusive, multi-cultural Scotland we often hear talked about?
We will reflect on this discrimination, but we see it as a time to act. We will be speaking to lodges, here and abroad, about what we do to ensure that our culture, our religion, our heritage and beliefs can be celebrated, as others are allowed to celebrate theirs.