Opinion: Sign the petition against Brian Souter’s knighthood

Like most people, I enjoy a quick scan of the Birthday Honours to see which celebrities have been given a long overdue award (arise Sir Brucie!) and then get on with my day. Saturday was different.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that the notorious homophobe Brian Souter had been awarded a Knighthood.

This is a man who funded one of the most hurtful and bigoted campaigns in recent times. The Keep The Clause Campaign was a shameful period in Scotland’s history and I was amazed that the man behind it should be recognised by the Palace and the Government for his contribution to public life!

For those of you who don’t know: The Labour/Liberal Democrat administration in the first year of the new Scottish Parliament decided to scrap the hated Section 2A (or Section 28 for those south of the border) which prevent schools from discussing homosexuality in a positive light.

The Keep The Clause Campaign was set up by Brian Souter to stop the Scottish Parliament from removing this discriminatory piece of legislation from law. This campaign saw posters and leaflets distributed across Scotland making all sorts of insinuations about the risks posed to children by gay men and women. He even funded a deeply flawed “referendum” on the subject where he sent ballot papers out to homes in Scotland based on out-dated electoral registers combined with misleading information. This was widely condemned by many sections of Scottish society, with the Electoral Reform Society saying that this ballot would not be a “legitimate democratic exercise”.

As a newly out gay teenager at the time, I had to put up with posters on almost every street and leaflets shoved through my letter box spreading the most vile lies about LGBT people. I know that I was not alone in feeling intimidated and victimised by Mr Souter’s campaign.

In fact, the Equality Network reported a marked increase in homophobic abuse and violence during the months of the Keep The Clause Campaign.

I was concerned when Theresa May was appointed Home Secretary due to her previous record on gay rights. However, I was reassured by the presance in her department of stanch allies of the LGBT community such as Lynne Featherstone and also by her comments that “we will not fund or work with organisations that do not subscribe to the core values of our society”. I find these words ring hollow when we are rewarding a man who fails to live up to even the basic standards of respect or tolerance.

I cannot believe that in 2011 we as a nation can allow a man whose bigotry has caused such hurt and pain to be given one of our highest honours.

This honour is an insult to the LGBT community and to our straight friends who support equality.

That is why I have set up an online petition calling for the withdrawal of Mr. Souter’s Knighthood. I must say, that I have been overwhelmed by the response. Within just a few hours of the petition going online we received over 1,600 signatures!

I would urge you to please sign this petition to register your disapproval of such a man receiving such a high honour.

Ross Chmiel has been a member of the Lib Dems since he was 15, former President of the Dundee University Liberal Democrats and former Secretary of the Edinburgh North and Leith local party.

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13 Comments

  • Ross Chmiel 14th Jun '11 - 5:20pm

    ***STOP PRESS***
    The petition has now gathered more than 4,700 signatures!!

  • Don’t forget the coalition agreement – “We will ensure that any petition that secures 100,000 signatures will be eligible for formal debate in Parliament. The petition with the most signatures will enable members of the public to table a bill eligible to be voted on in Parliament.”. Does this apply to the queen’s honours list, or is that outside Parliament’s control?

  • adrianfairlie 14th Jun '11 - 5:31pm

    I would be happy to sign this petition. It’s clearly unbelievable that someone of Brian Souter’s homophobic views should be given a knighthood. What kind of signal does this send out?

    However, those of us who remember the Keep the Clause campaign will know that it wasn’t just Souter’s project. There were other organisations involved, such as the Christian Institute and Christian Action for Research and Education (CARE). This latter organisation has an equally shameful record as Brian Souter but less of a public profile. Like Souter, CARE has never apologised and even recently have supported Nadine Dorries’ Right to Know campaign. However, this hasn’t stopped CARE providing interns to a number of MPs of all parties, including some of your own like Farron and Burstow.

    More about CARE here: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Christian_Action_Research_and_Education

    I agree that Souter’s knighthood is disgraceful. But so too is CARE’s presence in the heart of the Westminster establishment. They were equally as responsible for spearheading a campaign against LGBT people back in 2000, but why is there no outrage when they are welcomed as accepted members of the establishment?

  • I can only assume he’s been given the knighthood for services to monopoly-building through systematically eliminating small operators in the market-place using aggressive practices that endangered the lives of pedestrians (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Souter).

  • Homophobia amongst the knighted is not uncommon enough to pass comment. The mystery to me is why a devoted nationalist, and massive SNP donor, is accepting an honour from the British establishment?

  • Martin Land 14th Jun '11 - 7:18pm

    Look the more people like Souter who are ‘honoured’ the better. This way the whole corrupt and absurd system will become more and more discredited.

  • Perhaps we should have a Referendum on whether he deserves it?

  • There are now 5114 signatures as at this point in time.Surely that says quite a lot about what people think of this!

  • I think it is actually better if this goes ahead. It can then be used as a tool against the SNP come the next election. My logic is simple, the biggest swing in Scotland seemed to be Lib Dem to SNP. Most people who have ever voted Lib Dem would find this mans views beyond offensive. Therefore they can be asked, do you wish to support the party funded by such a man.

    @adrianfairlie
    Thanks for reminding everyone of the involvement of those “Christian” organisations. They are a disgrace to the word and represent a bigotted minority. They should be treated with the contempt that they deserve.

  • @Josh – Although this is supposedly the Queen’s Honours List, it is in fact the Prime Minister who approves the honours, not the Queen. Given that fact, such a Bill, if it is brought to Parliament, would not be exempt from Parliamentary scrutiny!

  • Bryan Manley-Green 19th Jun '11 - 4:04pm

    Not only have I signed this petition, but I was also lucky enough to be at a Barbecue with Lorely Burt MP yesterday and raised the issue with her. She promised to have a word with Nick Clegg about this. To make sure she does so, I’m following up our conversation with an email and look forward to receiving her reply.

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