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Oxford professor denies he is homophobic as online petition calls for his sacking

AN OXFORD University professor defended himself against homophobia allegations today after a petition with more than 500 signatures called for his removal from teaching.

John Finnis has “a long record of extremely discriminatory views” against many people, including the gay community, the petition claims.

The call was sparked by an assertion in a paper, originally published in 1994, where the 78-year-old Roman Catholic professor said that homosexuality is “never a valid, humanly acceptable choice and form of life.”

It is “destructive of human character and relationships,” he wrote, because “it treats human sexual capacities in a way which is deeply hostile to the self-understanding of those members who are willing to commit themselves to real marriage.”

Mr Finnis rejected the criticisms on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, insisting he had “absolutely” no hatred for homosexual people.

Petition author Alex Benn said Mr Finnis had “built a career on demonisation” and that his “so-called arguments” about disadvantaged people were “hateful” and “widely discredited.”

He said: “Campaigns like this one often receive simplistic responses calling for tolerance or academic freedom. But law, employment and education already draw boundaries about what won’t be tolerated.

“The humanity of disadvantaged people, including LGBTQ+ people, isn’t a debate. I started this campaign not only to address the specific issue of Finnis’ role at Oxford, but to get Oxford to make up its mind — either it’s in support of equality or it’s not.”

A university spokesperson said it does not tolerate any form of harassment “on any grounds” but its policy also protects academic freedom of “respectful” speech “without violating the dignity of others.”

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