Anger over cardinal's 'bigot' award

A row has broken out after the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland was crowned "bigot of the year" by a gay rights charity.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien was named in the controversial category at Stonewall's annual award ceremony in London.

The charity said the move was voted for by 10,000 supporters and came after the cardinal went "well beyond what any normal person would call a decent level of public discourse" over the last year, which has seen heated debate over plans to introduce gay marriage in Scotland.

But the Catholic Church criticised the charity's award, saying it revealed "the depth of their intolerance" and a willingness to demean people who do not share their views.

The row came after Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson picked up a politician of the year gong from the equality group. Ms Davidson was awarded the title in recognition of her becoming the first openly gay leader of a major UK political party. But she criticised the bigot of the year category, saying it was "simply wrong" to use such terminology.

Upon receiving the award, Ms Davidson was quick to urge Stonewall to drop its controversial "bigot" category. She said: "I think it's important for young people growing up to see that it doesn't matter your politics, gender or sexuality, there should be no barrier to success.

"This is why I am so supportive of Stonewall's Role Models leadership programme. But where I disagree with Stonewall in these awards is the need to call people names like 'bigot'. 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."

The Cardinal, who has strongly opposed Scottish Government plans to extend marriage to same-sex couples, has previously described gay marriage as a "grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right".

Stonewall Scotland director Colin Macfarlane said: "It's fitting that Stonewall's 10,000 supporters voted decisively to name Cardinal O'Brien as 'Bigot of the Year'. We've never called anyone a bigot just because they don't agree with us, but in just the past 12 months the Cardinal has gone well beyond what any normal person would call a decent level of public discourse."

A spokesman for the Catholic Church said Stonewall's announcement on Thursday night "reveals the depth of their intolerance and willingness to attack and demean those who don't share their views".