Cardinal Keith O’Brien
Cardinal Keith O’Brien named Bigot of the Year by Stonewall (Reuters)

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the leader of Britain's Roman Catholic Church, has been named Bigot of the Year at the annual Stonewall Awards.

The gay, lesbian and bisexual charity conferred the award on O'Brien for his opposition to equal marriage and for saying same sex relationships are "harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing" of ordinary people.

Stonewall went ahead with the award despite its sponsors, Coutts and Barclays, saying they would pull funding if the controversial bigotry accolade was included.

However the Hero of the Year award went to another figure of the church, the Reverend Giles Fraser, an outspoken advocate for equality for gay people and tolerance within the church.

Rev Fraser is also known for founding the Inclusive Church, the campaign group for full recognition of gay relationships.

Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, defended the Bigot of the Year award and the choice of winner. He said: "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."

However, a spokesman for the Catholic Church said the award highlights the charity's own intolerance. The BBC quotes him as saying: "Stonewall's decision to award their Bigot of the Year award to Cardinal O'Brien reveals the depth of their intolerance and their willingness to attack and demean those who don't share their views.

"Stonewall and others have promoted terms like bigot and homophobe relentlessly, in order to intimidate and vilify anyone who dares oppose their agenda. It is an agenda which the wider public does not endorse and which their excessive language has undermined."

Andrea Minichiello Williams, from Christian Concern, added: "Neither he [O'Brien] nor any faithful Christian is homophobic. Stonewall's attack on him reveals their contempt and brazen attitude to this who will not capitulate to their agenda."

The event was hosted by Gok Wan and held at the V&A museum in London.

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