THE Orange Order has ignored calls to condemn a flute band behind a fancy dress party that was won by a man and woman dressed as Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun while two children wore rags branded with a yellow star-shaped patch like that which Jewish people were made to wear in Nazi Germany.

Images collected from social media also depicted other parties in which members of the Orange Order allegedly dressed as the Pope with a noose tied around his neck while in another two men in Celtic shirts imitated a sex act on a child's doll.

The story in our sister title Sunday Herald yesterday provoked outrage from Jewish and Catholic groups as well as anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth and veteran's charity Legion Scotland.

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Police Scotland confirmed it was investigating the incident to determine whether a hate crime had been committed.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland had initially declined to comment on the story but yesterday issued a statement which failed to acknowledge the claims being made against it.

Members declined to speak to Herald reporters when contacted yesterday.

However, last night Scotland's most prominent human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar said there should be "utter condemnation" of the "grotesque" incident.

"I find this absolutely horrific – there is simply no space for this in the 21st century," he said.

"I'm one of those people who does not believe in banning Orange marches, but there is a real responsibility of those at the highest levels of the lodge to hold these members to account. Anything else is simply unacceptable.

"You can only imagine the sheer outrage by these same individuals if others had dressed up like Osama Bin Laden or suicide bombers – and rightly so.

"And if this was a Muslim thing, then the first thing you would hear would be people calling on Muslim leaders to condemn it."

The controversial pictures were posted on the Whinhall True Blues Flute Band Facebook page and were taken at annual Halloween parties held in the Airdrie and District Orange Hall and Social Club in 2013 and 2010.

The images have since been removed.

In a statement, the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland said it "does not seek immunity from media criticism" but newspapers have a responsibility to be "impartial or even handed".

And it continued: "We understand that the press has a role to play, but there is a difference between holding to account and pursuing a baseless agenda to attack and demonise our Protestant culture and heritage."

In the wake of the story, Pete Wishart, SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, tweeted: "At some point Scotland is going to have to deal with the range of issues that allows something like this to be a feature of our community.

"[The Orange Order are] always the victim. [They] never acknowledge that large swathes of the community have issues with its activities. Unrepentant as always."

The images were described as "horrific, sick and indefensible" by SNP Argyll and Bute councillor Julie McKenzie who tweeted that a failure to condemn fromthe Orange Order had been "truly disturbing".

Glasgow SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter also questioned the Orange Order's statement, saying: "This misses the point in spectacular fashion. Someone put yellow stars on children for fun. They should be horrified."

A spokesperson for Scottish Labour said there should be a "a zero tolerance approach to sectarianism" and added: "It goes without saying that these sickening pictures are completely unacceptable and they will be rightly condemned by people from all walks of society."

A Church of Scotland spokesperson said: "Sectarianism has no place in Scottish life today and the Church of Scotland seeks to build respectful relationships with people of all faiths and none.

"In 2005, for example, the Church of Scotland joined the Catholic Church to create Faith in Communities Scotland and we support its 'In Wi' the Mix' initiative that brings faith groups together to tackle difficult issues within their communities."

Earlier this month, the lodge came under fire after supporters of an Orange walk in Glasgow were observed signing the Famine Song, which contains anti-Irish lyrics.