A NATIONALIST MSP claims he has suffered a campaign of online "abuse and intimidation" after backing a controversial Holyrood motion calling for limits to any forthcoming legislation on gay marriage.
Dunfermline MSP Bill Walker says he has been the victim of bullying, but the politician was branded "anti-gay" by Labour over his stance on same-sex marriage.
Mr Walker is among three MSPs who backed a motion by fellow Nationalist John Mason that states no person or organisation should be forced to be "involved in or to approve of" same-sex marriages.
He said yesterday: "I've had e-mails from people I don't know and they've been thoroughly abusive, calling me a homophobe, calling me from the Dark Ages, saying that they hope the people of Dunfermline realise who they've voted in.
"No-one has threatened to cut my throat or anything, but they say I should be ashamed of myself.
"I'm registered as a member of the Church of Scotland, but they say I'm a disgrace to my church. To me, it's pretty intimidating."
He added: "Fortunately, I'm pretty long in the tooth, and I've had a life outside politics. I'm used to bullying, and that's what I regard it as.
"What concerns me is that if you don't agree with something, you're some kind of 'phobic'."
He is not reporting the matter to the police, insisting he could "spend his life" pursuing abuse on electronic media, and wants to await a consultation which the government is holding on the issue.
The row has prompted a split inside SNP ranks over the past week. Nationalist MEP Alyn Smith and MP Pete Wishart are among those who have hit out at Mr Mason's motion. Mr Smith, himself gay, said in a newspaper article that the motion "saddened" him.
He wrote: "What is in the small, mean, angry heads of bigots is a matter for them. I have never asked for their approval, but I demand equality."
Mr Walker says he believes marriage is the relationship between a man and a woman.
"That's the way I look at it - that's what marriage is. That just released a fury," he said. "To me it's a moral, ethical and even a practical issue from the point of view of the structure of society."
He added: "There's a campaign going on about gay marriage and that it's equivalent, it's equal."A man and a man, or a woman and a woman, is equal to a man and a woman - I basically don't accept that."
But this position came under fire from Labour MSP Drew Smith, who also called on the First Minister to intervene.
He said: "Alex Salmond is stuck in the past and out of touch as he refuses to condemn Bill Walker's anti-gay views.
"As leader of the SNP he cannot hide on this issue and fudge it by saying it is a matter of individual conscience. It is about equal rights for all Scots.
"Does he not realise these comments are deeply offensive to gay people? The SNP, with people like Bill Walker, John Mason and Alex Salmond, are stuck in the past.
"In the week when it was revealed the SNP government nominated their major donor Brian Souter for a knighthood, a man notorious for his anti-gay views, Alex Salmond now has to make clear he and his party are not influenced by the bus tycoon."
Mr Mason's motion is supported by three SNP MSPs - Mr Walker, Richard Lyle and Dave Thompson.
Green MSP Patrick Harvie and Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie have condemned Mr Mason's stance, and have lodged amendments to his parliamentary motion.
In its election manifesto, the SNP said it would hold a consultation on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Marriage is an emotional and physical relationship between a man and a woman. Consult, for example, Chambers 20th Century Dictionary. It's as simple as that - nothing to do with "equality". Homosexuals and lesbians may have relationships but it is not marriage. "Same-sex marriage" is a contradiction in terms.
Now completely misused, the word homophobia literally means either "fear of the same" or "fear of man". I subscribe to neither.
You sir, are a disgrace to our movement, your religion, and yourself.
You should be ashamed to draw the salary of an MSP if that is the level of your debate.
I do hope the electors of Dunfermline see sense in 2016.
I am writing to ask you to consider removing your support for the un-amended motion which I find personally offensive and homophobic.
In my view, being against an issue on the grounds of sexuality is tantamount to being against something on the grounds of race, or ironically enough, religion. As a member of the party, I am extremely embarrassed that one of our members has put forward a motion which is completely against the notion of basic human equality and even more disappointed that several of you have endorsed it.
When the Thatcher government introduced Clause/Section 28 against the 'promotion of homosexuality' in the 1980s, no teacher was involved in such 'promotion' but the climate engendered by the move was homophobic and directly injurious to gay people (including myself).