The Orange Order is standing behind anti-gay remarks made by Fermanagh County Grand Master Stuart Brooker, who said gay people could not join the organization because "homosexuality is wrong.”
Brooker told The Impartial Reporter that any gay members would likely have to leave the organization unless “they professed to the Christian reformed faith.”
“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.”
He said that while the organization had never had to deal with a homosexual person trying to join, 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,” Brooker was criticized some aspects of the Islamic faith, saying Muslims make “us feel like strangers in our own country.”
Although he has shared posts on his personal Facebook profile from Britain First, Brooker said he did not align himself with the extreme-right organization.
"I wouldn’t be anti-anybody... I respect other people's faith,” he added.
On the Orange Order, he said: "Many commentators call us anti-Catholic, but we are not anti-Catholic, we are pro-Protestant.
"We are a Christian organization and we have Christian values and we must in inverted commas, ‘love everybody’ and show Christian charity."
In a statement, an Orange Order spokesman 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."