Scottish Tory leader booed at Stonewall Awards

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The leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson found herself being booed off the stage at Thursday night’s Stonewall Awards in central London.

It was after the MSP criticised the gay rights charity for its “Bigot of the Year” category during her acceptance speech.

Ms Davidson, who is Scotland’s first lesbian political leader, won the title of Stonewall’s “Politician of the Year”, beating Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone, Conservative MP Iain Stewart and Scottish National Party MSP Nicola Sturgeon.

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”.

Ms Davidson received a small number of cheers from her supporters, but then quickly found herself being drowned out by jeers and boos.

Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill, who was co-hosting the ceremony with TV presenter Gok Wan, defended the charity’s bigot category during the ceremony and subsequently received a standing ovation.

Afterwards, Mr Summerskill told “Ruth is entitled to her view, Stonewall works with politicians from all parties, which is the key to our success, in spite of pressure from some, I’m sure as leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth is used to being in a small minority”.

Earlier this week, two of Stonewall’s corporate supporters threatened to drop their sponsorship of the awards due to the bigot category. However, Mr Summerskill reiterated the charity’s justification for the category and said that those who were nominated, such as the winner Cardinal Keith O’Brien, were guilty of displaying deep-seated hatred towards gay people.

“I am someone who uses language quite carefully, as does Stonewall,” said Mr Summerskill. “And we think it is appropriate, while there still is bigotry, to be prepared to highlight it.

Conservative MP Iain Stewart suggested that it was important not to “demonise an entire church” in reference to the bigot title going to Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who is the leader of Scotland’s Catholic Church, and the UK’s most senior Catholic.

However, Mr Stewart continued: “People are entitled to their views, and it is probably a debate that needs to be had,” Mr Stewart added: “Personally, I don’t get hung-up on one word”.

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, who was also at the event, said Ruth Davidson’s acceptance speech was “rather ill judged because Stonewall has a long and proud tradition of not only being positive about campaigning for equality, but also identifying and pointing out people who are very bigoted”.

Mr Bradshaw added: “When there are people calling us beastialitists or equate being gay with slavery, I think we are personally entitled to call them bigots”.

Ruth Davidson declined a request by to be interviewed once the awards had concluded.