The fifth Stonewall Awards ceremony will take place on Thursday 4 November at the V&A in London. The ceremony, now an essential fixture in the lesbian and gay calendar, will be hosted by TV presenter and comedian Sue Perkins. The ceremony celebrates those who have made a positive impact on the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain. Last year’s winners included Boyzone, Sarah Waters and Joan Bakewell.
Nominees for Hero of the Year include X-Factor winner Joe McElderry, rugby legend Gareth Thomas and presenter and sports journalist Clare Balding, whose recent complaint to the PCC was upheld last Friday. Bigot of the Year nominations include Sunday Times journalist A.A. Gill for his stinging personal attack on Clare Balding, the Rt Rev Arthur Roche who led the Catholic Care Adoption agency’s legal fight to be allowed to turn away same-sex couples, and Chris Grayling, the MP for Epsom who caused a storm days before the election when he suggested that B&B owners should be legally entitled to bar gay couples.
Three of the Awards will be voted for by thousands of Stonewall supporters from across Britain: Hero of the Year, Bigot of the Year and the Stonewall Community Group. The chosen Community Group of the Year – won last year by the Allsorts youth project in Brighton - will receive a cheque for £5,000 to support its work.
The other seven awards – including Writer and Entertainer of the Year – will be chosen by a panel of judges including radio and TV presenter Paddy O’Connell and author Sarah Waters. Other judges include Margot James, MP and Eileen Gallagher, the co-founder of Shed Productions the company behind Bad Girls and Footballers Wives.
Laura Doughty, Stonewall Deputy Chief Executive, said: ‘Once again, the Stonewall Awards are shining a light on those who are making an important contribution to equality in Britain today – inspiring lesbian, gay and bisexual people to lead fulfilling lives at home, at school and at work.’
Tickets for the 2010 Stonewall Awards ceremony at London’s V&A on Thursday 4 November are £150 + VAT. To book your ticket visit www.stonewall.org.uk/awards or contact Maria Anna Petrou on 020 7593 2294.
1) Shortlist for Hero of the Year – an individual who has encouraged, inspired or achieved the most for lesbian, gay & bisexual people in the last year:
Clare Balding – The popular presenter and sports journalist successfully complained to the Press Complaints Commission when A.A. Gill used a review in the Sunday Times to describe her as a ‘dyke on a bike’. Clare explained it was important to show the piece overstepped the line between acceptable comment and gratuitous abuse. She entered a civil partnership with Radio 4 newsreader Alice Arnold in 2006.
Kath Gillespie Sells – Kath founded Regard, now a national campaigning group for LGB and T disabled people, 20 years ago this year. Also a qualified psychotherapist, Kath is an independent disability adviser working on strategy and solutions for a range of public bodies.
Dr Jeffrey John – The Dean of St Albans and one of the most brilliant theologians of his generation, Jeffrey John was rejected for appointment as the Bishop of Southwark this year - the second time that he’s failed to secure a senior position in the Church of England because of his sexual orientation.
Joe McElderry – The 19-year-old X Factor winner came out in July in an emotional interview with the Mirror, a week after telling his mum. Newcastle’s star singer said: 'I'm feeling good about it, it's liberating. Now I can just get on with my life'. Joe’s since enjoyed widespread public support and is launching his first album.
Gareth Thomas – A rugby legend with 100 caps to his name, Gareth came out last December making him the first openly-gay professional rugby star still playing the game. After transferring to Rugby League he endured shocking homophobic abuse during his first away game, resulting in an RFL fine for Castleford RFC. He’s used his profile to become an inspirational public advocate for gay equality.
2) Shortlist for Bigot of the Year - an individual who has gone out of their way to harm, hurt or snub lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the last year:
Frederick Forsyth – The author and columnist mocked the persecution facing lesbian and gay asylum seekers in a sneering piece in the Daily Express. Responding to a landmark Supreme Court ruling on gay asylum cases, he wrote: ‘Has not some genius in our witless judiciary just pronounced that any gay who thinks they might be duffed up at home can settle here for life?’
A.A. Gill - The Sunday Times restaurant and television critic used a review of Clare Balding’s new TV show to launch a stinging personal attack on the presenter. ‘Now back to the dyke on a bike, puffing up the nooks and crannies at the bottom end of the nation’, not the first time he’d insulted a lesbian TV presenter. After receiving a dismissive response from Gill’s editor, Clare lodged a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission, which was upheld.
Chris Grayling – The MP for Epsom, then shadow Home Secretary, caused a storm days before the election when he suggested that B&B owners should be legally entitled to bar gay couples. Grayling’s comments were recorded following a speech at the Centre for Policy Studies.
Rt Rev Arthur Roche - In August, Leeds-based adoption agency Catholic Care lost their appeal to win an exemption from discrimination law in order to turn away same-sex couples. The Right Reverend Arthur Roche, the Bishop of Leeds and the charity’s President, led the legal battle for the special exclusion.
Susanne Wilkinson –The owner of a Berkshire guest house hit the headlines after illegally turning away a gay couple because it was ‘against her convictions’ for two men to share a bed. Mrs Wilkinson told the BBC: ‘I don’t see why I should change my mind and my beliefs I’ve held for years just because the government should force it on me.’
My partner and I moved back to Australia 4 years ago. I totally miss Stonewall, its professionalism, its sense of pride and the fact that stonewall knows how to have fun and put on a party that makes everyone feel fabulous. There is no group like Stonewall anywhere in Australia who are there to lobby, make change and educate - but also just to ensure we all feel great! Good work guys.
Nick, 09 October 2010
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