Barclays and Coutts criticise 'bigot' award

Two major banks have threatened to withdraw their backing for gay lobby group Stonewall's annual awards.

Barclays and Coutts have issued statements distancing themselves from the 'Bigot of the Year' award.

Nominees for the offensive category include Scottish Catholic leaders Cardinal Keith O'Brien and Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, who have opposed the Scottish Government's attempts to legalise gay marriage.

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.”

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

"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.”

Other high profile sponsors of the Stonewall awards include PwC and Google.

The statements from Barclays and Coutts were issued after complaints from members of the public and Christian Concern.

The Christian advocacy group criticised the Bigot of the Year award for seeking to "ridicule rather than engaging with the arguments and the individuals involved".

Andrea Minichiello Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern, welcomed the responses from the banks.

“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," she said.

“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.”