November 4, 2012

IconBigotgate? It’s a Cardinal sin

Hey, Stonewall. Look, I know you’ve been having a bit of a hard time this week. It seems like everyone and their dog’s lining up to have a pop at you, doesn’t it?

Cardinal Keith O'Brien. Photograph: Scott Campbell

I mean, the Catholic Church were never your biggest fans anyway but then there was the corporate sponsors of your awards threatening to remove their support and your very own politician of the year Ruth Davidson, openly gay leader of the Conservatives in Scotland, criticising your decision to brand the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland a bigot. To top it all off, Alex Salmond’s went and got himself involved. But I just wanted to let you know that I’m on your side. Sometimes, you have to call a spade a spade, and other times you have to call a Cardinal a bigot.

Apparently he and his pals are a bit upset about it, probably in much the same way Nick Griffin gets upset when someone calls him racist. I wonder if they’ve given any thought to how their words and actions have affected my friends, my family, or me. I didn’t particularly enjoy being called grotesque, or a subversion, or O’Brien personally throwing thousands of pounds at a campaign to deny me the same rights as my heterosexual counterparts. Upset is an understatement. No corporate sponsors leapt to my defence then, or to the defence of the many vulnerable young people to whom these slurs cause very real harm.

First Minister Alex Salmond has backed O’Brien, and said: “Stonewall were clearly wrong to describe Scotland’s Cardinal in these terms in any case, should reflect on whether pejorative titles like this do anything to enhance their cause.”

Why wasn’t the same criticism leveled at the Cardinal’s pejoratives when he likened the campaign for same-sex marriage to slavery? Because losing the Catholic vote would be a disaster to the Scottish National Party’s bid for independence, I’m guessing. Hey Alex, I’ve got news for you. Your decision to press ahead with plans for equal marriage are all very well and good, but there’s no point supporting us legislatively if when push comes to shove, you cower back into your selfish little hole.

Let’s make things very clear. The Cardinal wasn’t nominated for the award because of his opposition to same-sex marriage, but because of the horrific slurs he’s directed toward the LGBT community and the unrelenting campaign of misinformation and hatred that he has spearheaded towards people whose only crime has been to believe in equality. There is nothing inherently wrong with disagreeing with equal marriage, if your arguments are based in logic and rational and not in hatred and intolerance. That, my friends, is bigotry. That isn’t name-calling, or offensive and out of date. It’s a fact.

You might be wondering why everyone seems to be getting their knickers in a twist when the equal marriage legislation is all but signed, sealed and delivered. Not quite, unfortunately. It’s far from over. We’ve still got at least three years and another consultation into views on religious freedom, education and freedom of speech before we can make a dash for the confetti.

Not content to respect the decision of the government, Scotland for Marriage have pledged to spend thousands more to oust members of the Scottish Parliament who support equal marriage rights. They say that they have established a nationwide network of volunteer activists in each constituency who will pile pressure on MSPs to “make local voters aware” of their politician’s stance on same-sex marriage.

A spokesman said: “Some people might have thought the gay marriage fight was over just because the government ignored the results of its own consultation and decided to proceed with legislation, despite two-thirds of respondents being against it. But nothing could be further from the truth.

“We have a clear agenda for action allied to a properly planned and well-funded programme which will be professionally executed.”

Thankfully for us all, Stonewall are sticking to their guns and their director in Scotland has defended the decision to give the Cardinal the title of Bigot of the Year. Colin Macfarlane said: “People nominated for the award this year have called gay people Nazis, they have compared them to bestialitists and to paedophiles, and one of the nominees suggested that gay people should be put in front of a firing squad and shot dead.

“So I think what we are doing is highlighting the very cruel, very nasty, very pernicious language that is being used by some people. I think we are right to highlight that kind of discrimination.

“We have no problem with people not agreeing with equal marriage—and there is a strong debate going on in Scotland around the proposals. We at Stonewall do not agree with them, but we do so in a dignified and respectful manner. Sadly, the Cardinal hasn’t done that. He has compared equal marriage to slavery, to paedophilia and bestiality. He has said he is going to declare war on supporters of equal marriage.

“I feel a man of the cloth declaring war on another section of Scottish society is pretty despicable. It’s disheartening and depressing. It is Stonewall’s job to shine a light on discrimination and to stand firm in tackling it.

“What I want is for the First Minister and all MSPs to say no to the kind of language used by the Cardinal and others when discussing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues and to stand firm with Stonewall and call it what is is. Bigotry. It’s cruel and it doesn’t do anyone any favours.”

Make no mistake about it. This is another blatant misuse of religious freedom by Cardinal O’Brien to attack the LGBT community and their supporters and he is using the excuse of defending traditional marriage as a stick to beat us.

There is nothing Christian about his behaviour or his words, and the views he holds are the very definition of intolerance and bigotry.


5 Responses to Bigotgate? It’s a Cardinal sin

  1. Brian Macdonald says:

    Well said and written young Lyell

  2. Jayne galloway says:

    Brilliantly written!

  3. Marilyn Jackson says:

    Absolutely right, the Cardinal is a bigot, end of.

  4. Robert Burns says:

    Too right – Perhaps customers might think about withdrawing support from Barclays and Coutts?

  5. Lorraine O'Sullivan says:

    Well-written and well-said. I am a Catholic and sometimes I feel very ashamed of us!

Carrie Lyell


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