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Stonewall quit LGBT awards after organiser’s business given UK’s largest fine for homophobia

Joe Williams October 12, 2015

PinkNews Exclusive
Stonewall Scotland has revealed it pulled out of a recent LGBT awards show after becoming aware of organiser’s homophobic past.

The ICON Awards were staged in Glasgow on Friday by Paramount Creative – with stars including Bruce Devlin, Conchita Wurst and Michelle Visage turning up to the glitzy show.

Paramount Creative also runs the Scottish Italian Awards, the Scottish Entertainment and Hospitality Awards, and the Scottish Home Improvement Awards.

However, LGBT charity Stonewall Scotland has exclusively revealed to PinkNews that they decided to pull out of the awards, after it was revealed that Paramount’s CEO Warren Paul was involved in a homophobic discrimination case back in 2007.

A 2007 tribunal heard that Mr Paul allegedly called a gay employee a “wee poof”, said he looked like “a cream puff”, and asked if he was “from Stoke on Trent” – rhyming slang for “bent”.

At the time the company was ordered to make one of the largest payouts in British history (£118,000) to the employee – while Mr Paul was singled out for criticism for “overtly abusing and humiliating him on the grounds of his sexual orientation.”

Paul, a former police officer, allegedly threatened to send “some police friends to visit” if Mr Ditton contacted the office again after he had been fired for being “psychologically unbalanced.”

Stonewall Scotland told PinkNews that they were nominated for and due to present an award at the event – but pulled out as soon as they became aware of Mr Paul’s homophobic history.

“While we were happy to see the awards celebrate the LGBTI community in Scotland, we decided not to attend,” Colin Macfarlane, Director of Stonewall Scotland, told PinkNews.

“This is due to a historical case of discrimination involving the chief executive of Paramount Creative, the company which ran the awards.

“Stonewall Scotland works to ensure people can live and work without fear of discrimination and we didn’t feel we could lend our full support to the awards in light of this revelation,” he added.

A source close to the event also revealed that the awards handed out at the ceremony were not engraved with the winner’s names – suggesting organisers were prepared for a possible backlash due to Mr Paul’s past actions.

Mr Paul yesterday told PinkNews he is trying to make amends for the incident, and “step up” for the LGBT community. He had not mentioned the link to his track record before being questioned by PinkNews.

He said: “The ICON Awards was created to bring LGBTI rights to the world and let everyone know what [sic] we are all the same no matter what beliefs we have.

“Going to 2007, that period of my life had a profound effect on how I viewed people and life in general.

“I decided that I could either retreat to the background, or step up and stand up for the LGBTI community in atonement – I decided on the latter.

“I am a proud employer of LGBTI people and I have since decided that I had to stand up for gay rights in a way no one else ever has.”

The ICON awards were launched earlier this year in aid of HIV charity Waverley Care, with organisers saying that £8,500 was raised for Waverly Care at last week’s event.

The event is one of two new large-scale LGBT awards in Scotland, competing with the Scottish LGBTI Awards, which raises funds for LGBTI charity the Equality Network

More: Conchita Wurst, icon awards, LGBT, Michelle Visage, Scotland, Scotland, Stonewall Scotland, warren paul

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