British LGBT awards criticised for including Zayn Malik and Zoella in shortlist

Organisers said the public nominations 'delivered an exciting and varied shortlist'

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The Independent Online

Organisers of the British LGBT awards are being criticised for including stars such as Zayn Malik and Zoella in the 2016 shortlist.

The awards, which will take place in May in London, are designed to “showcase individuals and organisations who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the LGBT community”.

The shortlist, which was announced on Wednesday, includes categories such as LGBT Broadcaster or Presenter, Sports Personality, Music Artist, LGBT Celebrity and Celebrity Straight Ally, as well as a variety of corporate awards which are judged by "industry experts”.

However, the shortlist has received criticism for its inclusion of many straight high-profile people like Malik - who alongside Sam Smith, Jess Glynne, Halsey, Frank Ocean, Years & Years, Adele, and Little Mix - has been nominated for Music Artist. In a description next to his name organisers point to the fact that in a 2014 interview when asked about sexuality he said: “Just be yourself. If that’s who you are, that’s who you are and don’t be afraid to be the person you are.”

Organisers included a disclaimer on their website next to artists such as Adele, Malik, Little Mix and Years&Years which said: “As part of our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, The British LGBT Awards accepted public nominations in this category, regardless of the nominee’s sexuality, gender, ethnicity, disability, age, education, race and religion.”

Zoella with 'Girl Online'

In the Straight Ally award category there has also been backlash for the inclusion of internet sensation Zoe Sugg, better known as Zoella, who apparently wrote in her book, Girl Online, she wanted to “spread awareness of anxiety, of gay teens struggling with how their parents dealt with their sexuality…” and also because her “best friend” is Tyler Oakley, a gay vlogger.

Some voiced their criticism of the inclusion of non-LGBT people and a “straight ally” category in general.

On their website, organisers invite the public to make their nominations in each category. Nominations were closed on 18 January and “campaigns or companies with the most public nominations go through to the shortlist”. Voting is now open although corporate winners are decided upon by a panel.

A spokesperson for the awards told the Independent: "The public nominations process has delivered an exciting and varied shortlist. This process is open, honest and reflects the will of the thousands of people who took part. The fact that the shortlist has created such a talking point can only be a good thing in helping the British public decide on their LGBT heroes and straight allies of 2016."

Last year’s award for Straight Ally of the Year went to Lorraine Kelly and Daniel Radcliffe. The Sports Personality of the Year award went to Tom Daley and Kylie Minogue accepted the Global Gay Icon award, which this year sees competition from: Cher, Hillary Clinton, Stephen Fry , Lady Gaga, Sir Ian McKellen, Bette Midler, Jennifer Saunders and George Takei.