Host Gok Wan, Stonewall’s Ben
Summerskill and Andrew Cowles.
Jan Moir, the Daily Mail columnist behind the controversial article on the death of Boyzone singer Stephen Gately, has been named Bigot of the Year at the annual Stonewall Awards, held on Thursday at London’s V&A.
Moir’s article, which questioned the lifestyle and circumstances of the singer’s death and was labelled homophobic, was the target of a record number of complaints to the UK’s Press Complaints Commission.
She shared the title with Father John Owen, a priest who claimed on a BBC programme that the majority of child abuse is carried out by gay men.
A highlight of the awards, which aims to celebrate those who make a positive impact on the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, was the attendance of Gately’s widower, Andrew Cowles, in his first public appearance since the singer’s death.
He collected the Entertainer of the Year Award on behalf of the members of Boyzone, who were awarded for Gately’s 1999 decision to come out and their 2008 music video for Better which featured a same-sex couple.
“For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Stephen Gately’s husband,” said an emotional Cowles to the audience.
“When Boyzone did their video a year ago, it featured Stephen with another man. It wasn’t a press stunt – they wanted to show Stephen as he was. The other guys just respected Stephen and my – our – relationship. The boys wanted to be here tonight – they’ll be so proud. I also want to say thanks for your support in the last few weeks – especially to all who contacted the Press Complaints Commission over Jan Moir’s article.”
Reverend Scott Rennie, who late last year became the Church of Scotland’s first openly gay minister, was honoured with the Hero of the Year award.
The Broadcast of the Year award went to Samira Ahmed’s Channel 4 special report titled Corrective Rape in South Africa, which focused on the targeting of lesbians for ‘corrective rape’.
The judges singled out the report as a “shocking piece of television, which cast a light on discrimination suffered by lesbians, all too often overlooked in the media.”
“In the light of recent homophobic hate crimes in Liverpool and London, the Stonewall Awards provide a much-needed platform to showcase the strength, confidence, visibility and talent of lesbian and gay people in this country,” said Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive. “We paused during the celebrations to remember recent targets of homophobic hate – both on the streets and in the media.”