The Archbishop of Glasgow has said that Catholic adoption agencies in Scotland will continue to turn away gay couples in defiance of the Equality Act.

Archbishop Conti, who has been consistently hostile towards gay rights, has taken the hardline stance as the row over gay adoption looks set to become a major issue in the upcoming elections for the Scottish Parliament.

It has emerged that the churchman has written to Scottish members of the Cabinet to warn them that the Church will campaign against the Labour party in the elections unless Catholic adoption agencies are granted an exemption.

The Sexual Orientation Regulations, which are due to be introduced across Britain in April, outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services.

Archbishop Conti said that the two Catholic adoption agencies in Scotland would continue to turn away gay or lesbian couples and wait for the local authorities to close them down.

The Roman Catholic Church still has a strong influence in some parts of Scotland, in particular Glasgow.

The city has a history of sectarianism, with violence and mutual distrust between Catholics and Protestants still a factor in Glasgow life.

A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland said that priests would preach from the pulpit about the May 3rd election and urge parishoners to vote against MSPs who support gay rights.

A Catholic Church spokesman said of the row over gay adoption, “I can’t see it being avoided at the election. The SNP has already made it an electoral issue.”

The Scottish National Party have pledged to allow Catholic adoption agencies in Scotland to continue to discriminate. The nationalists hope to wrest control of the 129-member parliament from Labour.