UK: Barclays and Coutts threaten to pull out of gay rights awards
Two of Britain's best known banks have threatened to withdraw sponsorship from the Stonewall awards unless the gay campaign group drops the controversial "Bigot of the Year" category at the annual dinner.
The move comes as the ceremony designed to champion diversity and open mindedness was itself accused of "intolerance and intimidation" by including the award.
Christian groups are particularly upset about Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Britain’s most senior Catholic, being nominated for the prize for his opposition to gay marriage.
Now Barclays and the royal bankers Coutts have said they will withdraw their support unless the category is dropped.
Coutts, which has withdrawn its delegation from the awards on Thursday, said: “Coutts are sponsors only of Stonewall's Writer of the Year Award and have in no way been involved in the judging or support of the Bigot of the Year category.
"We have advised Stonewall that we will be withdrawing our support of the awards unless they remove this category.”
Mark McLane, Managing Director and Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion at Barclays, said: “I have recently been made aware of the inclusion of a ‘Bigot of the Year’ category in the awards.
"Let me be absolutely clear that Barclays does not support that award category either financially, or in principle and have informed Stonewall that should they decide to continue with this category we will not support this event in the future.
"To label any individual so subjectively and pejoratively runs contrary to our view on fair treatment, and detracts from what should be a wholly positively focused event.”
Cardinal O’Brien is said to have made comments about same-sex couples which some found to be deeply offensive.
He is said to have stated that same-sex relationships are ‘harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being" and compared equal marriage to slavery and child abuse.
Under his leadership the Catholic Church in Scotland has pledged to "declare war" on marriage equality and committed an additional £100,000 for the fight.
The former leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance, Alan Craig was also nominated.
Mr Craig caused outrage by comparing gay equality advocates to the invading forces of Nazi Germany and dubbing them the "Gaystapo".
Simon Lokodo, the Ugandan Ethics and Integrity Minister, is also a contender.
He branded gay people "sick" and said they were seeking to "pervert" children.
Lord Maginnis, another nominee, made headlines by referring to same-sex marriage as "unnatural and deviant behaviour".
He said questioning if marriage equality would "mean that every deviant practice has to be accommodated? Will the next thing be that we legislate for some sort of bestiality?"
The Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, the Archbishop of Glasgow, caused outrage in July when he claimed that the late David Cairns MP had died due to the fact he was gay and that a "conspiracy of silence" prevented people from stating that being gay directly led to premature death.
His words caused deep offence to the former minister’s partner, Dermot Kehoe, who has said that the comments have added to his "grief and pain".