Section 28 backer Brian Souter: I’m not homophobic and I have gay friends

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Stagecoach boss Brian Souter, who funded a campaign to keep the anti-gay Section 28 in law, has claimed that he is not homophobic and has gay friends.

The transport magnate gave £1 million to fund the ‘Keep the Clause’ campaign in 2000, to argue against the repeal of Section 28 – which banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools.

He has also warned on other occasions that society would “implode” if “traditional marriage” were to fail.

In an interview with the New Zealand Herald, Mr Souter claimed his stances opposing equality are wrongfully “interpreted” as homophobic.

He said: “[I support] the traditional marriage-based family, and I’m afraid that stance gets interpreted as being homophobic.

“You get labelled when you express a view, or you are honest and some people will label you. But only those who don’t know you.”

He added: “Yes, I do [have gay friends]”, before claiming he wouldn’t mind if one of his children were gay.

Mr Souter was controversially knighted in 2011, and has donated substantial sums to the Scottish National Party on several occasions.

The SNP accepted a £1 million donation from the businessman in September this year.

Then-leader Alex Salmond – who is in favour of equal marriage – defended the donations by claiming it had no influence on party policy, saying: “I know Brian Souter, I think he’s an outstanding Scottish entrepreneur, and I think he’s done some amazing things in building up his businesses, but I would have thought that, if you can have an example of a major donor to a political party whose attitude clearly hasn’t been followed through in the policy of that political party, wouldn’t that be an example of honesty and integrity in politics?”