Orange Order stands by Fermanagh County Grand Master after 'homosexuality is wrong' remarks
Stuart Brooker said that any gay members would 'likely have to leave'
The Orange Order has backed Fermanagh County Grand Master Stuart Brooker after he said gay people could not join the organisation because "homosexuality is wrong".
Speaking in an interview with The Impartial Reporter, Mr Brooker said any member that was gay would likely have to leave the organisation.
He was speaking following the publication of a good relations audit by the County Fermanagh Grand Lodge aimed at building community relations and awareness of the work of the organisation.
Asked for the Orange Order’s view on homosexuality, Mr Brooker told The Impartial Reporter: “We’re a Christian organisation and therefore we believe in what the Bible teaches.
"The Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong.
"That doesn’t mean we are anti-homosexuals, LGBT people or that we hate people. I personally don’t agree, I believe homosexuality is wrong because the Bible teaches me it is wrong.”
Mr Brooker said the organisation had never had to deal with a gay person trying to join, however, he said the rules and regulations would not allow it.
"We are back to the teachings of the Bible again."
And, while calling for “civil and religious liberty for all”, the prominent Orangeman was critical of some aspects of the Islamic faith, saying Muslims make “us feel like strangers in our own country".
Mr Brooker has also shared posts on his personal Facebook profile from the extreme-right organisation, Britain First. However, he stressed he did not align himself with the organisation.
He added: "I wouldn’t be anti-anybody... I respect other people's faith."
On the Orange Order he added: "Many commentators call us anti-Catholic, but we are not anti-Catholic, we are pro-Protestant.
"We are a Christian organisation and we have Christian values and we must in inverted commas, ‘love everybody’ and show Christian charity."
An Orange Order spokesman, in a statement, told the Belfast Telegraph: "The opinions were expressed during a wide-ranging interview, following the publication of a community audit commissioned by County Fermanagh Grand Orange Lodge with the intention of increasing understanding and good relations across the community.
“The remarks reflect the personal views of Mr Brooker. However, his viewpoint on certain issues would be shared by many within the Institution and others within wider society."