UK: Catholic leaders furious at Stonewall's 'bigot' award for Cardinal Keith O'Brien
Reposted from The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/02/catholic-stonewall-bigot-keith-obrien?fb=optOut
Gay rights group names Scottish cardinal bigot of the year after he called gay marriage a 'grotesque subversion'
Catholic leaders have reacted furiously after members of the gay rights group Stonewall named Cardinal Keith O'Brien "bigot of the year" for his vigorous attacks on gay marriage.
Stonewall said its 10,000 members had voted "decisively" to give the title to O'Brien, head of the Scottish Catholic church, after he described gay marriage as a "grotesque subversion" of the universal human right which defines marriage as solely heterosexual.
The church, which also alleges that people in gay marriages suffer greater risks of mental illness and premature death, demanded that the Scottish government and two sponsors – the banks Barclays and Coutts – withdraw their sponsorship of the group.
Barclays and Coutts have already warned they will stop financing Stonewall, the UK's largest gay rights group, if the bigot award is proposed again next year. The Scottish parliament is expected to vote to legalise gay marriages next year, despite intense opposition from religious groups.
A church spokesman said the award showed Stonewall was intolerant of its critics. "Stonewall and others have promoted terms like 'bigot' and 'homophobe' relentlessly, in order to intimidate and vilify anyone who dares oppose their agenda," he said.
"Numerous public bodies give sizeable financial donations to Stonewall including the Scottish government. These intolerant and intimidatory tactics should mean that this funding is now questioned and examined as a matter of urgency."
Stonewall insisted the award was entirely justified since O'Brien had been consistently abusive and intolerant about gay marriage. The cardinal had likened it to relegalising slavery, said it was an "aberration", and claimed it might clear the way for polygamous marriages and would cause "further degeneration of society into immorality".
Colin Macfarlane, the director of Stonewall Scotland, said: "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."
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Macfarlane added: "The people that were nominated for bigot of the year have this year called gay people Nazis, they have compared them to bestialists and to paedophiles, and one of the nominees suggested that gay people should be put in front of a firing squad and shot dead.
"So I think what we are doing is highlighting the very cruel, very nasty, very pernicious language that is being used by some people – and in particular by the cardinal, who won.
"I think we are right to highlight that and to shine a light on that kind of discrimination, and hence why bigot of the year was one of our award categories."
Previous winners of the award include Melanie Phillips and Jan Moir, both as columnists for the Daily Mail, Chris Grayling, the Tory MP, and Iris Robinson, a Democratic Unionist party member of the Northern Irish assembly.
Stonewall's decision was criticised, however, by the Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson as she picked up her own award as politician of the year at the prize ceremony at the Victoria and Albert museum in London on Thursday evening.
Davidson, the first openly gay leader of a major political party in the UK, was booed when she said it was "simply wrong" to call people names like bigot. "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," she said.
"There are many voices in this debate and just as I respectfully express my sincerely held belief that we should extend marriage to same-sex couples, I will also respect those who hold a different view."