Cardinal Keith O’Brien and the Barclays logo

Barclays has threatened to stop backing a British gay awards ceremony because the event includes an award for Bigot of the Year that could offend Christians, reported The Telegraph.

The seventh annual Stonewall Awards, to celebrate people and organisations that’ve made a positive contribution to Britain’s LGBT community, is set to take place on Thursday at the V&A in London.

The category of Bigot of the Year, however, is now miring the event in controversy. Among the nominees is senior catholic leader Cardinal Keith O’Brien, a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage rights in the UK.

O’Brien has described gay relationships as “harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual well-being” and equated same-sex marriage to slavery and child abuse.

His inclusion, and that of other Christian leaders, as a ‘bigot’ has led to criticism by religious groups; something that appears to have led sponsor Barclays, and fellow bankers Coutts, to speak out.

“I have recently been made aware of the inclusion of a ‘Bigot of the Year’ category in the awards,” commented Mark McLane, Managing Director and Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion at Barclays.

“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,” said McLane.

Royal bankers Coutts has withdrawn its delegation from Thursday’s awards ceremony and has also threatened to end their support for the event unless the category is dropped.

Pink News reported that Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill, however, defended the ‘Bigot of the Year’ award. “We have never called anyone a bigot just because they disagreed with us. All the nominees have gone well beyond what anyone normal would call a decent level of public discourse.

“We welcome sponsorship from anyone who shares our core values, but we have an obligation to the 3.6 million gay people to do what is right, and highlighting extreme examples of bigotry when we know how harmful this unpleasantness is to the self-esteem of young people is right,” Summerskill insisted.

Other anti-gay nominees for bigot of the year include: Alan Craig, former leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance; Simon Lokodo, the Ugandan Ethics and Integrity Minister; Lord Maginnis, a British politician; and Philip Tartaglia, the Archbishop of Glasgow.

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