By Tim Montgomerie
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Yesterday evening proved to be a topsy-turvy experience for the leader of the Scottish Tories, Ruth Davidson. The lesbian MSP was named Politician of the Year by the homosexual campaigning group Stonewal. A spokesman for Stonewall told the BBC why Ms Davidson had been recognised:
"As Britain's first openly gay leader of a mainstream political party, Ruth has shown thousands of young gay Scots that they can aspire to be what they want to be."
But Ms Davidson's moment in the spotlight couldn't have been comfortable. She was booed at the awards ceremony after she criticised Stonewall's decision to introduce a 'bigot of the year' category and award it to the leader of Scotland's Catholics, Cardinal Keith O'Brien. "Where I disagree with Stonewall," she said, "is the need to call people names like 'bigot'." She continued:
"It is simply wrong. 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. There are many voices in this debate and just as I respectfully express my sincerely held belief that we should extend marriage to same-sex couples, I will also respect those who hold a different view."
According to a report on PinkNews, the gay Labour MP Ben Bradshaw defended the decision to introduce the bigot of the year category. “When there are people calling us beastialitists or equate being gay with slavery," he said, "I think we are personally entitled to call them bigots”.
Barclays and Coutts, long-term supporters of the Stonewall Awards, are considering withdrawing sponsorship as a result of the bigot award category. I hope they do. It would be a real shame if society flips from one form of intolerance to another. From an intolerance of gay people to an intolerance of traditional Christian views. I certainly don't believe that the Cardinal expressed himself when in his notorious Radio 4 interview but Stonewall and other equality groups will win more friends by being peacemakers rather than becoming a new angry brigade.