First Minister Alex Salmond has criticised Stonewall for naming Scotland’s top Roman Catholic as its ‘Bigot of the Year’, but stopped short of cutting Government funding.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, a vocal supporter of traditional marriage, was given the disparaging title at an awards ceremony last Thursday.
Mr Salmond said: “Stonewall were clearly wrong to describe Scotland’s cardinal in these terms, and in any case should reflect on whether pejorative title’s like this do anything to enhance their cause.
“Personal insults are not conducive to a proper and dignified debate on the important issue of equality in Scotland.”
However, the Scottish Government has ruled out cutting funding for the charity. Stonewall Scotland will receive £300,000 of taxpayers’ money over the next three years.
The award was also criticised by Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson, who picked up the charity’s ‘Politician of the Year’ award.
She said she is supportive of Stonewall’s Role Models leadership programme.
“But,” she said, “where I disagree with Stonewall in these awards is the need to call people names like ‘bigot’. It is simply wrong.” She was booed by the audience.
Two leading banks – Barclays and Coutts –have threatened to end their sponsorship of the event unless the bigot prize is dropped in future years.
John Deighan, the Scottish Roman Catholic Church’s parliamentary officer, said: “It’s an outrage that an organisation like this, which is funded massively by the public purse, should hold such a position.”
Colin Mcfarlane, Stonewall Scotland’s director, said: “It’s fitting that Stonewall’s 10,000 supporters voted decisively to name Cardinal O’Brien as ‘Bigot of the Year’.
“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”.
The Scottish Government is currently pressing ahead with its plans to introduce same-sex marriage, despite widespread opposition.