England: Students demand sacking of law professor with ‘discriminatory views’

Professor John Finnis
Professor John Finnis

Hundreds of students have signed a petition calling on the University of Oxford to sack a law professor with “extremely discriminatory views against many groups of disadvantaged people”.

John Finnis, emeritus professor of law and legal philosophy, retired in 2010 but continues to co-teach seminars for postgraduate students.

A petition on Change.org with more than 500 signatures alleges that Professor Finnis has compared gay sex to bestiality and terrorism, linked homosexuality to child abuse, and described immigration to Europe as “reverse colonisation”.

Responding to the petition, Professor Finnis told The Oxford Student: “The petition travesties my position, and my testimony in American constitutional litigation. Anyone who consults the Law Faculty website and follows the links in the petition can see the petition’s many errors. I stand by all these writings. There is not a ‘phobic’ sentence in them.”

He said a 1994 essay cited in the petition “promotes a classical and strictly philosophical moral critique of all non-marital sex acts and has been republished many times, most recently by Oxford University Press in the third volume of my Collected Essays”.

A university spokesperson said: “Oxford University and the faculty of law promote an inclusive culture, which respects the rights and dignity of all staff and students. 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. All of the university’s teaching activity, including that in the faculty of law, is conducted according to these principles.”

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