Ruth Davidson: Award a special place for respect and tolerance
LAST night the gay equalities charity, Stonewall, held its annual awards ceremony celebrating people in sport, journalism, politics and entertainment who have made a positive contribution to advancing equality.
It also has a “Bigot of the Year” category, and this year the two most senior members of Scotland’s Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Keith O’Brien and Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, were named in the shortlist for this award.
I very rarely talk publicly about my sexuality or my faith because I believe everybody – even politicians – need and deserve private space.
However, the debate in Scotland regarding same-sex marriage cuts across both.
I am a practising Christian, and in a same-sex relationship with my partner of many years.
I believe marriage should be extended to same-sex couples in Scotland, but equally believe protections should be put in place so churches and religious organisations are under no compulsion to carry out such ceremonies.
While I believe in same-sex marriage, I know many people in Scotland do not share this view.
That is why Scottish Conservative MSPs will have a free vote on this issue in the Scottish Parliament.
It is also why I respect all the voices in this debate – including that of Scotland’s churches – and why I think Stonewall’s “bigot” award is so wrong.
On such a complex and difficult issue, involving faith, love, tolerance and belief, it is crucial all honestly held views are treated with respect.
I have met Cardinal O’Brien several times and have always found him to be a thoughtful, generous and sincere man. We may disagree on this issue, and some of the language used, but I believe his opposition comes from a position of faith, not from bigotry or intolerance.
I respect the views of the Cardinal and the Catholic Church just as I hope and expect the same recognition for my own.
With more and more children reporting homophobic bullying in our schools, equality organisations should be the first to acknowledge name-calling just isn’t on.
• Ruth Davidson is leader of the Scottish Conservatives.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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