A petition claiming Oxford professor John Finnis’ history of homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic and racist statements should lead to his removal has gathered over 400 signatures since its launch. It states that as well as being known for his discriminatory views, the Emeritus Professor of Law and Legal Philosophy “has even advised US state government not to provide legal protection for LGBTQ+ people who suffer discrimination”.
The petition alleges that in his writings Finnis has compared gay sex to bestiality (“Copulation of humans with animals is repudiated because it treats human sexual activity and satisfaction as something appropriately sought in a manner that, like the coupling of animals, is divorced from the expressing of an intelligible common good – and so treats human bodily life, in one of its most intense activities, as merely animal. The deliberate genital coupling of persons of the same sex is repudiated for a very similar reason.”)
It also states his comments include “Approving of gay sex is like approving of killing innocent people in a terrorist massacre” (“Just as a cowardly weakling who would never try to kill anyone, yet deliberately approves of the killings of innocent people in a terrorist massacre, has a will which violates the good of life, so even a person of exclusively and irreversibly homosexual inclination violates the good of marriage by consenting to (and deliberately approving) non-marital sex acts such as solitary masturbation”.) His work also suggests that homosexuality is “never a valid, humanly acceptable choice and form of life” as it is “destructive of human character and relationships”.
One of the petitions organisers, Alex Benn, said Finnis had “built a career on demonisation. His so-called arguments about disadvantaged people are hateful, not to mention widely discredited”. In his defence, Professor Finnis has said: “The petition travesties my position, and my testimony in American constitutional litigation…I stand by all these writings. There is not a ‘phobic’ sentence in them.”
The petition also calls on Oxford University to clarify its position on discriminatory professors. A spokesperson for the college replied: “We are clear we do not tolerate any form of harassment of individuals on any grounds, including sexual orientation. Equally, the University’s harassment policy also protects academic freedom of speech and is clear that vigorous academic debate does not amount to harassment when conducted respectfully and without violating the dignity of others.”
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