Labour’s Diane Abbott slams people who use religion as an excuse for homophobia at PinkNews Awards

Diane Abbott at the PinkNews Awards

Labour’s Diane Abbott has hit out at people who use religion as an “excuse” for homophobia in a speech at the PinkNews Awards.

Speaking at the PinkNews Awards in Westminster on Wednesday, the shadow home secretary also vowed to impose sanctions on tech giants that fail to tackle online hate crimes.

Diane Abbott: Religion is not an excuse.

She said: “I have always stood up for LGBT rights, when it wasn’t fashionable or easy, and I’ve done it in my own community.

“One thing I won’t tolerate is, ‘It’s my religion, that’s why I’m homophobic.’ No, you’re homophobic because you’re a homophobe, using your religion as an excuse.

“One of the saddest things is there are parts of the world, including countries in the Commonwealth, where people take their lives in their hands if they publicly express who they love. The battle won’t be over until we’ve won in those countries too.”

Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott (Paul Grace)

She also noted new figures published on Tuesday that shows a massive surge in transphobic and homophobic hate crime in the UK.

Abbott said: “There’s an overall upward trend, which all of us have to combat, because words and consequences, and we all need to check ourselves and not use words that incite overreaction and hatred.

“We also need to stand up to the internet giants who I think have not done enough to check. I’ve had experience for some years now, where you report hate crime and nothing happens.

“We need to crack down on hate crimes and impose sanctions on those companies that are a vehicle for hate crime.”

Broadcast Award presented to ITV News for Gay cure therapy uncovered.

Abbott also presented the annual Broadcast Award to ITV News for investigative report Gay cure therapy uncovered.

The broadcast by ITV News exposed gay conversion therapy taking place in UK churches, with one pastor comparing society’s acceptance of LGBT+ people to Nazi propaganda.

ITV News political correspondent Paul Brand spent six months investigating gay conversion therapy in UK churches, highlighting the need for a conversion therapy ban in the UK.

Paul Brand accepted the award for his investigation into gay cure therapy

Paul Brand accepted the award for his investigation into gay cure therapy (Paul Grace)

Brand dedicated the award to his friend Kevin, who took his own life as a teenager after being subjected to pressure to ‘cure’ his sexuality.

He thanked ITV for being “fearless” in championing diversity, adding: “I’ve lost count of the number of friends I’ve lost to depression and anxiety in the LGBT community.

“There is an epidemic of poor mental health in the LGBT community, and we do not talk about it enough.

“I want to thank ITV for allowing me to uncover one of the issues that contributes to that.”

The nominees for the Broadcast Award were:

  • ‘Gay cure therapy uncovered’, ITV News
  • The Making of Me, Channel 4
  • ‘Sex Education: The LGBT debate in schools’, Panorama, BBC
  • ‘The LGBT Education debate’, Victoria Derbyshire, BBC
  • How to be a Girl, Marlo Mack.
  • Born Different, Barcroft Media
  • First Dates, Channel 4
  • The Bi Life, E!
  • Naked Attraction, Channel 4
  • ‘Sex education: The clash of LGBT and religious rights’, Newsnight, BBC

This is the seventh annual PinkNews Awards, sponsored by Amazon, and taking place at Church House, headquarters of the Church of England.