Alex Salmond: Stonewall wrong to call Cardinal O’Brien a ‘bigot’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has waded into the row over Stonewall’s Bigot of the Year title after the gay rights charity awarded it to the leader of Scotland’s Catholic Church.

Last night, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson found herself being booed off the stage at the Stonewall Awards in central London.

It was after the MSP criticised Stonewall for its Bigot of the Year category during her acceptance speech.

The title went to Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who has remained a staunch critic of UK plans to introduce equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, describing the measure as “grotesque,” earlier this year.

Ms Davidson, who is Scotland’s first lesbian political leader, won the title of Stonewall’s Politician of the Year.

During her acceptance speech, Ms Davidson said it was wrong to use the term “bigot” and that it was important to “respect people who have a different view”.

She added: “The case for equality is far better made by demonstrating the sort of generosity, tolerance and love we would wish to see more of in this world.”

According to the BBC, Mr Salmond said: “Stonewall were clearly wrong to describe Scotland’s cardinal in these terms, and in any case should reflect on whether pejorative titles 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.”

The SNP leader confirmed that public donations towards the charity would continue, amid calls by Scotland’s Catholic Church for it to stop.

Stonewall Scotland Director Colin Macfarlane told BBC Radio Scotland: “The people that were nominated for Bigot of the Year have this year called gay people Nazis, they have compared them to bestialitists and to paedophiles, and one of the nominees suggested that gay people should be put in front of a firing squad and shot dead”.

He added: “So I think what we are doing is highlighting the very cruel, very nasty, very pernicious language that is being used by some people – and in particular by the cardinal, who won.

In September, Mr Salmond’s government announced that an equal marriage bill would be voted on by MSPs within the current parliamentary term, he also said the current debate is “good” for Scotland.

Earlier this year, it was reported that relations between Mr Salmond and Cardinal O’Brien had become strained over the issue of marriage equality.