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Turner Prize faces criticism after sponsor's co-founder has history of anti-LGBTQ activism

Sir Brian Souter donated millions to keep Section 28 in Scottish law

2019-05-02

Words: Steve Brown

The Turner Prize 2019 is facing criticism after accepting sponsorship from Stagecoach whose co-founder has a history of anti-LGBTQ activism.

The Guardian reported that the prestigious art awards have accepted sponsors from the bus company but the event faces backlash after it was revealed the chairman of the company, Sir Brian Souter, has a history of voting against LGBTQ rights.

Souter – who was knighted back in 2011 – previously said that society would ‘implode’ if traditional marriage fails and even donated millions to keep Section 28 in Scottish law.

At the time, the Stagecoach boss said: “We are arguing here about what kind of society we want to live in.

“Are we going to be in a Babylonian-Greek-type of society, where sex is primarily a recreational activity, or are we going to stick with the Judeo-Christian tradition, where procreation is something that we want to put within a marriage context?

“Quite honestly the issue about gay relationships is a small side-product from that discussion.”

Following the announcement, many took to social media including art critic Laura Cumming who said: “The art world swills with money. Sponsorship isn’t scarce: banks, brokers, big Pharma, and oil.

“But here we are with Stagecoach’s Brian Souter and his hateful homophobia.”