Gay Rights Stonewall calls Cardinal O’Brien the bigot of the year

Storm over Stonewall’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien ‘bigot’ award

Award sponsors are unhappy with the bigot category bestowed on the cardinal

1 November 2012 Last updated at 23:38

A row has broken out after the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland was named Bigot of the Year by gay rights charity Stonewall.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s stance on gay marriage was singled out at Stonewall’s annual awards in London.

Sponsors Barclays and Coutts have said they will axe their funding if the category is not dropped next year.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson won Politician of the Year, but was booed for also criticising the bigot award.

Ms Davidson, who is gay, has been among cross-party support for a same-sex marriage bill which is being brought forward by the Scottish government, while Cardinal O’Brien has been a strong critic of the plans.

Speaking at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Ms Davidson said it was important for young people to see that politics, gender or sexuality should be no barrier to success.

She added: “But where I disagree with Stonewall in these awards is the need to call people names like ‘bigot’. It is simply wrong.

“The case for equality is far better made by demonstrating the sort of generosity, tolerance and love we would wish to see more of in this world.”

Lobbying group Christian Concern has accused Stonewall of trying to shut down legitimate debate about the introduction of gay marriage.

Stonewall Scotland director Colin Macfarlane said: “As Britain’s first openly gay leader of a mainstream political party, Ruth has shown thousands of young gay Scots that they can aspire to be what they want to be.”

He added: “It’s fitting that Stonewall’s 10,000 supporters voted decisively to name Cardinal O’Brien as Bigot of the Year.

“We’ve never called anyone a bigot just because they don’t agree with us, but in just the past 12 months the cardinal has gone well beyond what any normal person would call a decent level of public discourse.”

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said: “Stonewall’s decision to award their Bigot of the Year award to Cardinal O’Brien reveals the depth of their intolerance and their willingness to attack and demean those who don’t share their views.

“Stonewall and others have promoted terms like bigot and homophobe relentlessly, in order to intimidate and vilify anyone who dares oppose their agenda. It is an agenda which the wider public does not endorse and which their excessive language has undermined.”

Christian Concern’s Andrea Minichiello Williams said she regarded Cardinal Keith O’Brien as “a courageous Christian leader who has stood for the truth”.

“Neither he nor any faithful Christian is homophobic. Stonewall’s attack on him reveals their contempt and brazen attitude to this who will not capitulate to their agenda.”

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