NICOLA Sturgeon vowed to remain an ally to the LGBT+ community as she was named Celebrity Ally of the Year at a ceremony in London on Wednesday evening.

The Rainbow Honours awards, according to the page’s official Twitter, aim to “shine a light on those unsung in the LGBTQI community”.

Sturgeon attended the ceremony with journalist Benjamin Butterworth posting an image with the former first minister, saying it was a “pleasure to speak” with her.

Speaking at the event as she accepted her award, Sturgeon said she was joined by her “travelling squad of Scottish lesbians”.

“This is a celebration but it is a celebration as we have heard from others this evening that comes with a moment of reflection and perhaps a moment of warning”, she said.

Sturgeon continued: “There are two things I want to say to you this evening and I know you don’t need to hear this from me but I’m going to say it anyway.

“Firstly, the progress towards equality is not linear, it is not one-directional, it can go backwards as well as forwards.

“This is a moment when we must be strong in making sure it continues to go forwards.”

She added that equality must be achieved in a “united manner” and to “never give in to the attempts to divide and rule”.

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“It feels as if I have said this in Scotland until I am blue in the face. Let’s see if it ultimately proves to be effective but I will not stop saying it ever.

“My rights as a woman are not diminished in any way, shape or form by the enhancement of the rights of trans men and women”, she continued.

The speech was met with applause throughout the room as she told everyone “not to let anyone tell you otherwise”.

Sturgeon added: “This is a moment for unity. It is a moment for solidarity. It is a moment for strength and for courage.

“And this room tonight exemplifies courage often in the face of adversity so the last thing I would say this evening with honour and a great deal of privilege and humility in accepting this award is that for as long as there’s a breath in my body, and I hope that is for some time yet to come, I will always be an ally, a strong, unflinching, unequivocal ally.”

Sedulo, a business advisory firm who sponsored the award, said on Twitter:

“Congratulations to last night’s @RainbowHonours Celebrity Ally of the Year award winner, @NicolaSturgeon as well as the highly commended @Beverleyknight.

“Very proud to support @RainbowHonours as a sponsor once again.”