Stonewall handed out ten awards for positive contributions to LGBT rights and awareness on Thursday evening, and one to Cardinal Keith O’Brien for Bigot of the Year Award, in a ceremony attended by over 450.
Hosted by Gok Wan, the event saw the head of the Scottish Catholic Church awarded Bigot of the Year, after previously labelling gay relationships ‘grotesque,’ ‘harmful’ and comparable to slavery.
Stonewall stood by its belief that it is “incredibly important” to challenge anyone who made “gratuitously offensive comments” about gay people, after leaders of the Catholic Church demanded the category be removed and companies Coutts and Barclays cut sponsorship to the event.
Despite the two biggest sponsors threatening to withdraw, unless the category is dropped next year, Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said: “We have never called anyone a bigot just because they disagreed with us.
“All the nominees have gone well beyond what anyone normal would call a decent level of public discourse. We welcome sponsorship from anyone who shares our core values, but we have an obligation to the 3.6 million gay people to do what is right, and highlighting extreme examples of bigotry when we know how harmful this unpleasantness is to the self-esteem of young people is right.”
Reverend Giles Fraser, who received Hero of the Year Award for being an inspirational faith leader who supports gay people, thanked Stonewall for its efforts in standing up to bigotry: “I’m ashamed that I share the same profession as so many of the people that were nominated and received the Bigot of the Year Award. Why I’m proud of Stonewall, and why I’m proud and delighted to have received this award, is because what you seek to attack, and what you seek to challenge, is fear.”
Great British Bake Off presenter Sue Perkins won Entertainer of the Year Award, with Broadcast of the Year Award going to Britain’s Got Talent. On accepting the award, its production team said: “We’d like to thank ITV for having the courage to put obviously gay acts on primetime television.”
The Rugby Football League won Sports Award of the Year. Its Equality and Diversity Manager, Sarah Williams, said: ‘This is a fantastic honour for rugby league. We’re proud to stand up and say there’s no place for homophobia in sport.’