BRITAIN’s most senior Roman Catholic was last night declared “bigot of the year” by a leading charity, which promotes the rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who has become embroiled in a fierce row with the Scottish Government over its plans to introduce same-sex marriage, was named as the recipient of the contentious prize at the Stonewall Awards in London.
The cardinal was chosen above four other contenders for the title, which the charity said is designed to “highlight extreme examples of bigotry”.
Elsewhere, Ruth Davidson MSP, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, and a supporter of the same-sex marriage legislation at Holyrood, was named politician of the year at the ceremony at the Victoria & Albert museum, beating Nicola Sturgeon, deputy first minister, and Iain Stewart, the Hamilton-born Conservative MP for Milton Keynes South.
But it is the bigotry award which has traditionally attracted attention at the annual prize-giving. Previous winners include Conservative MP Chris Grayling, and journalists Jan Moir and Melanie Phillips.
Cardinal O’Brien has been an outspoken critic of the legislative plans, condemning gay marriage as an “aberration” and likening it to slavery and abortion.
He said countries which legalise same-sex marriage are “shaming themselves” by going against the “natural law”, and should not consider their actions “progress”.
He added that such unions were the “thin end of the wedge” and would lead to the “further degeneration of society into immorality”.
In response to Stonewall awarding their title of “Bigot of the year” to Cardinal O’Brien, a spokesperson for the Catholic Church said the announcement “reveals the depth of their intolerance and willingness to attack and demean those who don’t share their views.”
The statement also called into question Government funding of the organisation.
It 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.”