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article imageDaily Mail columnist named Bigot of the Year by Stonewall

By Andrew John     Nov 5, 2011 in Lifestyle
One of Britain’s best-known newspaper columnists, Melanie Phillips, has been named Bigot of the Year in the annual awards of the gay campaigning organization Stonewall.
And popular TV presenter and newspaper columnist Vanessa Feltz (pictured) has picked up a joint Journalist of the Year award, while novelist Alan Hollinghurst gets the Writer of the Year award.
Malanie Phillips writes for the right-wing tabloid the Daily Mail. According to a report in ATV Today, she faced some tough competition in the category.
Also nominated was the founder and boss of the huge passenger transport company Stagecoach, Brian Souter, who actively support a pro-gay-discrimination law known as Section 28. It has since been repealed, but Souter – based in Scotland – spent hundreds of thousands of pounds campaigning for it to remain.
Another nominee was Stephen Green, head of a small but vocal right-wing religious group called Christian Voice, based in West Wales but campaigning throughout the UK.
Green is virulently antigay, but is also known for opposing the BBC’s decision some years ago to show the musical Jerry Springer: The Opera.
ATV Today says of Bigot of the Year winner Phillips:
In January she laughably accused the government of “brainwashing” children in schools by including references to gays. Phillips wrote it was an “abuse of childhood” and part of a “ruthless campaign” by the “gay rights lobby to destroy the near concept of normal behaviour”. That particular column provoked a strong backlash with many challenging Phillips to state what “normal sexual behaviour” actually was. Later Phillips claimed she had received death threats over the article.
On the more positive side, Stonewall has announced several award winners, with the Hero of the Year slot going to Roger Crouch. The group says on its website:
Chosen by thousands of Stonewall supporters. Since 2010 Roger has dedicated himself tirelessly to working to raise awareness of homophobic bullying in schools, after his son Dominic took his own life in 2010. Roger said: “I see this as an award for Dom. I want to say by choosing us for this award you’ve also chosen to take a stand alongside all the young people whose lives have been ended by bullying. We are parents who loved our son. We stood by him in life and we stand by him in death.”
Among other winners are Vanessa Feltz, who writes a column in the Daily Express, and Matthew Todd, editor of Attitude, who are jointly named Journalist of the Year.
“Vanessa Feltz regularly uses her platforms in both the broadcast media and her national newspaper column to encourage fair discussion of gay issues,” says Stonewall, quoting Feltz as saying: “If I get another caller saying ‘It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve’ I will shoot myself in the heart. I am fighting the good fight as hard as I can, and will continue to fight!”
Garlanded
Stonewall Matthew Todd has been recognized for “for bringing a new edge and maturity to gay publications.”
Politician of the Year was Chris Bryant MP. Bryant, Member of Parliament for Rhondda in Wales, has “been garlanded with plaudits from across the political spectrum for his tenacious campaign against News International phone hacking. The judges were impressed with ‘the resolve and tenacity’ that Chris has demonstrated, as an equality advocate, in the last decade,” says Stonewall.
And the Stonewall Writer of the Year was Alan Hollinghurst for The Stranger’s Child, which the group says is “an elegant and erudite book about the life and legacy of a gay war poet.”
The judges said of the book: “Alan stood out not just for his latest work but for a catalogue of superb novels representing the intricacies of gay life across the decades.”
Hollinghurst himself said: “It feels so especially wonderful that it should be recognized by such a great campaigning organization like Stonewall, who fight for the larger and important things that we all hold dear.”
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