It is “almost Stalinist” to expel a councillor from her party group just because she votes against gay marriage, a local Liberal Democrat leader has said.
Brian Stone was referring to the case of Christina Summers, a Green Party councillor who was booted out last week.
She says she will appeal, supported by the Christian Legal Centre.
The local leader’s comments come after Nick Clegg – the Party’s national leader – got into hot water over a draft speech that referred to same-sex marriage opponents as “bigots”.
In a letter to a local newspaper Mr Stone, the Chair of the Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats, described the Green Party councillors’ actions as “intolerant and authoritarian”.
Mr Stone, who is gay, commented: “Given the LibDems have led the fight for equal marriage, and my personal commitment to the women’s right to choose, I don’t agree with the ideas to which Coun Summers is aligned.
“But given this woman’s genuine heartfelt difference of opinion, does it really call for the use of the party jackboot?”
He added: “The Greens’ action is almost Stalinist; instead of dialogue and discussion, the poor councillor is politically exiled by the Green thought-police.”
Cllr Summers’ expulsion came after she was subjected to a disciplinary inquiry.
The Green Party has insisted that the inquiry was not about Cllr Summers’ religious views or her right to voice her beliefs. It said it was about whether she had breached her undertakings as a candidate.
Cllr Summers, a Christian, will remain an independent councillor for the Hollingdean and Stanmer ward.
Following the controversy over Nick Clegg’s draft speech, a survey found 55 per cent of respondents thought the use of the word “bigots” was wrong and only 24 per cent thought it was right.
The poll, of over 2,000 people, also found that 50 per cent of people believed describing someone as a “bigot” because they disagreed with your views about same-sex marriage was like bullying. In contrast 35 per cent disagreed, while 16 per cent said they did not know.