The Provost of Aberdeenshire has pulled out of a civic event involving the mayor of an Alabaman city twinned with Stonehaven.
This is due to concerns in the community over the American state’s laws on abortion.
Representatives from the Stonehaven and North East Scotland Twinning Group visited the city of Athens in Limestone County, Alabama, earlier this year to celebrate the connection between the two communities on either side of the Atlantic.
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The twinning project has forged a number of links between Stonehaven and Athens, including children from Aberdeenshire being invited to attend the US Space and Rocket Centre across the pond.
And last week, representatives from Athens travelled thousands of miles to Stonehaven, to explore the seaside community and the rest of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
However, it is understood a number of groups in and around Stonehaven have voiced concerns over the town’s twinning with Athens, due to strict abortion laws in Alabama.
As a result, Provost Bill Howatson, who was due to attend a twinning ceremony with representatives from both sides of the Atlantic on Sunday, did not attend.
It was not deemed “appropriate” for him, as the civic head of Aberdeenshire Council, to be involved in the occasion.
Ronnie Marks, the mayor of Athens, said: “We, as a city, are interested in building relationships, and in our cities sharing and learning together.
“If people want to make a difference and enhance a community, it’s on the local level.
“We cannot allow perceptions, politicians or religion, to prevent us as communities from embracing the best parts of us.”
A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said: “While we appreciate the positive intentions of the event, it became clear that the twinning event in Stonehaven had become contentious and it didn’t feel appropriate that Aberdeenshire Council or its civic head should be involved”.