COMEDIAN Janey Godley and former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale have been named as two of Scotland’s LGBT heroes in the first Proud Scotland Awards.

Godley beat off competition from film star Emma Thompson and singer Annie Lennox for the Celebrity Ally award at a glittering ceremony in Glasgow last night, while Dugdale was given the Political Leadership award although it took three votes by the judges to decide a winner.

Dugdale took the prize at the last vote, beating SNP MP Mhairi Black, SNP MSP Jennie Gilruth and TIE campaign chair Councillor Rhiannon Spear. The win followed Dugdale’s successful court battle over what she considered to be a homophobic slur.

A special “Hall of Fame” award was given last night to Alan Gemmell, OBE, who is the founder of fiveFilms4freedom and was included in the 2017 Financial Times Top 20 Public Sector LGBT Executives.

The National:

Gemmell, who is originally from Ayrshire, set up the free online film festival, the first and biggest in the world, when he was working for the British Council. Created in partnership with the UN and the British Film Institute, the festival promotes freedom, equality and LGBT rights. In its first year in 2015, it reached 135 countries while the second fiveFilms4freedom was seen in 179 countries and included Scottish film Take Your Partners. In 2018 six million people around the world watched the festival films.

Gemmell told the Sunday National he was “surprised and honoured” to win the Proud Scotland award.

Other winners included James Morton of the Scot Trans Alliance who took the Champion award while the Inspiration gong was shared by Professor Maggie Kinloch, former deputy principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Dr Michael Farquhar, who launched the NHS Rainbow Badge scheme in England and is now making progress in efforts to extend it to Wales and Scotland.

The Glasgow institution of May and Robert Miller took the Entertainer award and Community Ally was Christeen MacMurdie, who maintains her schedule of performing and raising money for charitable causes, despite currently fighting cancer.

Many in the audience expected Glasgow or Edinburgh to triumph in the venue category but it was the Salty Dog in Dundee that took the honour while the Community award was won by Proud Ness.

Robert Forrester of Dunfermline Knights Rugby Club won the Sports Person award and Staff Sergeant Johanne Mundie, LGBT officer for all three branches of the military in Scotland, was awarded the Frontline gong.

Clydesdale Bank was named Corporate Ally, Books Glasgow took the Retailer gong while the Village Hotel Group won the Hospitality award.

Cat Harvey took the Journalist award, the Humanist Society Scotland won the Wedding category, Undividing Lines were named Arts and Media winners, Barrhead Travel took the Travel award while Burness Paull was named Small Employer with Sky winning the Large Employer award.

It is the first time the awards, which are sponsored by the Sunday National and are a partnership between the LGBT Co-operative and Beautiful Events and Productions, have been held in Scotland.

Last night Euan McLeod of the LGBT Co-operative, said the winners had been chosen from an “outstanding” list of nominees from all parts of the country.

“We are heartened by the sheer dedication and talent of so many people and it is a credit to the LGBT community in Scotland that we have such strong winners,” he said.

The LGBT Co-operative is also to run a new Mardi-Gla festival this summer which will include a Pride march and will be “the largest ever”, according to the organisers.