EDINBURGH, November 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Christian believers and others in Britain are expressing outrage after the country’s leading homosexualist lobby group declared the Cardinal Archbishop of Edinburgh, Keith O’Brien, “Bigot of the Year” for his opposition to “gay marriage”. While Stonewall and some others continue to defend the award category, even some of the group’s greatest supporters have criticized it, saying the designation damages their own cause.

Gerald Warner, a Catholic journalist and sometime policy advisor to the Scottish Conservative party, called the award a sign that the homosexualist movement is sinking further into “homofascism”. He told LifeSiteNews.com, “How would the politically correct media respond if the most prominent Catholic pressure group in Britain last night voted Ben Summerskill, of Stonewall, ‘Weirdo of the Year’? We all know the answer.

“So why is ‘hate speech,’ and even a hate award, acceptable, so long as it is directed against a Prince of the Church for reasserting the timeless and unchangeable doctrine of the Catholic Church as it has stood for 2,000 years?”

While Stonewall and other homosexualist activist groups continue to defend the award, others have said it brings the tenor of the debate down to the level of the schoolyard.

“In seeking to humiliate and intimidate those who hold mainstream views on marriage rather than engaging with their arguments, Stonewall is stifling robust public discussion of an issue of great importance to the future of our society,” said Andrea Minichiello Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern. a faith-based legal defence association.

Williams, who is not a Catholic, has called the Cardinal “a courageous Christian leader who has stood up for the truth.” She said, “Stonewall’s attack on him reveals their contempt and brazen attitude to those who will not capitulate to their agenda.”

“It is deeply ironic that an organisation that claims to be opposed to bullying and even runs an initiative in primary schools, entitled ‘Celebrating Difference’, responds to difference of opinion by resorting to name-calling that, were it not more sinister, would be reminiscent of playground antics,” she added.

At their lavish annual awards ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Stonewall also named Scottish Tory leader and open lesbian Ruth Davidson “politician of the year” but then booed and jeered her at the ceremony when she objected to the “bigot” award.

“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,” Davidson explained.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond also criticized the award, but said he will not withdraw any funding from Stonewall.

Homosexualists were infuriated when the Catholic Church in Scotland said it will “declare war” on the Cameron/Clegg government’s plans to institute “gay marriage” and pledged £100,000 in funds to the campaign. Cardinal O’Brien has been a staunch and outspoken critic of the plans, saying that it is a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.”

While most of the Catholic episcopate of Britain have objected to the plans in some way, O’Brien is perhaps being singled out because he is among the extremely small number of Catholic leaders who have been willing to criticize the homosexual lifestyle itself, rather than merely praising natural marriage. O’Brien has said that homosexual activity is “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of those involved.” He was nominated for the “bigot” title along with fellow Scotland prelate, Philip Tartaglia, the archbishop of Glasgow.

Warner said the whole notion of “hate crimes” and “aggravated offences” has created a privileged political position “under Britain’s formerly equitable legal system” for “certain minorities” – who currently enjoy the fashionable caché and social approval of the leftist media and London’s “smart set” political establishment.

If such offenses are to exist, he said, “then there should be a level playing field.” “Christophobia is now the only tolerated - indeed encouraged - hate manifestation in Britain and the West.” He called branding Cardinal O’Brien “Bigot of the Year” “just the latest example of anti-Christian aggression” from the organized left.

“The Cardinal himself is entitled to regard the award as an unintended compliment, testifying that he has spoken up effectively for the Faith,” he said.

Warner also objected to the use of public funds to support, and public officials accepting, the awards. The tax funding of Stonewall, he said, means effectively that the government is paying Stonewall to lobby the government on issues that a small cadre of far-left politicians want to see pushed forward.

Warner also criticized Ruth Davidson for accepting the Politician of the Year award, and then attempting to salvage her position by chiding the group for the “bigot” award. “The point is: what was the leader of the Conservative Party in Scotland, who is promoting same-sex marriage while leading the one party that socially conservative voters look to for representation, doing at such an event?”

He added, “No Scottish Catholic or Christian can now vote Conservative.”
 
“If Catholics do not come together and make a stand against this kind of aggression they will be marginalised from society. We hear much about ‘homophobia’ - a propagandist, illiterate neologism used to intimidate - but what would its users say if Christians retaliated with the charge that such conduct amounts to ‘homofascism’?”

Two major banking firms, Barclay’s and Coutts & Co – the latter being the publicly owned bank used by Queen Elizabeth – have threatened to withdraw their support for the annual awards ceremony if the category is not removed from the list.

Coutts & Co said in a statement, “Coutts are sponsors only of Stonewall’s Writer of the Year Award and have in no way been involved in the judging or support of the Bigot of the Year category.

“We have advised Stonewall that we will be withdrawing our support of the awards unless they remove this category.”

Speaking for Barclay’s, Mark McLane, Managing Director and head of the office of Global Diversity and Inclusion, said, “Let me be absolutely clear that Barclays does not support that award category either financially, or in principle and have informed Stonewall that should they decide to continue with this category we will not support this event in the future.

“To label any individual so subjectively and pejoratively runs contrary to our view on fair treatment, and detracts from what should be a wholly positively focused event.”

But Gerald Warner said these statements are not “good enough.”

“The fact remains,” he said, “they have sponsored this insult.

“Barclays’ claim that they were unaware of the ‘bigot’ award suggests they are not very careful in handing out money. Any Catholic with an account at Barclays should close it.”