The organising committee of the prestigious Booker literary prize has ended its relationship with Baroness Nicholson after her transphobic comments.
The Baroness, a fomer Booker judge and honorary Vice President, has been reported to the Lord’s Commissioner for Standards over claims she bullied a British transgender model she called a ‘weird creature’.
The ending of 78-year-old Baroness Nicholson’s role at the Booker Foundation follows a push from writer Damian Barr for her to be removed from her post. Referring to her stance on same-sex marriage, which she voted against in 2013, Barr – who is gay, and married – said “she’d have the wedding ring off my finger”.
The Booker Foundation initially stood by Nicholson but last night it caved in saying, “We, the Trustees of the Booker Prize Foundation, met today and wish to reiterate that the views expressed by Baroness Nicholson on transgender people are her own personal opinions.
“The issues are complex, but our principles are clear. We deplore racism, homophobia and transphobia – and do not discriminate on any grounds.
“Literature is open, plural and questioning. We believe every author’s work should be approached by readers in the same spirit. Integrity is central to both Booker Prizes, whose judging process is conducted at all times in keeping with these values.
“Upon her retirement from the Board in 2009, Baroness Nicholson was made an honorary vice president, a role that gave her no say in the governance or operations of the Foundation or prizes. In recent days there has been some confusion about the nature of honorary titles used by the Foundation. Too many believe that these titles in some way symbolise the prizes. That is not the case.
We have today decided that these titles and roles should, with immediate effect, cease to exist. Those holding them have been informed and thanked for their longstanding interest.”
The news was welcomed by trans charity Mermaids who said, “This will be a great reassurance to lgbt+ writers and book lovers the world over. We thank those who made this difficult but appropriate decision.”