The Bishop of Winchester has been nominated as ‘Bigot of the Year’ by a gay charity after he said people should be free to question whether homosexuality is a fixed trait.
He is joined on the nomination list by Dr Sheila Matthews, a doctor who nearly lost her job earlier this year because of her concerns about gay adoption.
The awards will be handed out at a ceremony sponsored by Barclays Bank to be held at the V&A museum in London on 5th November.
The Bishop of Winchester made his comments while speaking in a Parliamentary debate on free speech.
Pointing to evidence that a person’s sexual orientation is changeable, he said people should be free to “question the current dominant political orthodoxy” that sexual orientation is a fixed characteristic, like race.
While the bigot award will be subject to a public vote, other prizes will be judged by a panel including Work and Pensions Minister Angela Eagle MP.
This year’s Stonewall ‘Hero of the Year’ award could go to nominee Scott Rennie, who recently became the Church of Scotland’s first openly gay minister.
Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill said: “In Stonewall’s 20th anniversary year, we’ve had the opportunity to celebrate the heroes of the gay equality movement from the last two decades.”
Last year, Christian registrar Lillian Ladele was nominated in the bigot category. Miss Ladele was bullied and threatened with the sack by her employers at Islington Council after she asked to be exempt from registering civil partnerships.
The 2008 bigot award went to Northern Ireland MP Iris Robinson. Earlier in the year, Mrs Robinson had come under fire for using the biblical term “abomination” to describe the practice of homosexuality.
“I was very careful in saying that I have nothing against any homosexual,” she said at the time. “I love them; that is what the Lord tells me, to love the sinner and not the sin.”
She later added: “Anything I say is out of love. I am not hate-mongering. I cannot leave my Christian values hanging at the door when I go into politics.”
The previous year the award was given to the Bishop of Hereford, who was fined £47,000 because he would not appoint a homosexual to the post of church youth worker.