Northern Ireland’s main gay and feminist rights organisations will picket Sports Personality of the Year over the addition of the world boxing heavyweight champion Tyson Fury to the shortlist for the Belfast event.
They are angry that the BBC has kept Fury on the shortlist despite remarks he made in newspapers and radio which have been condemned as homophobic and sexist.
Tyson had suggested of his Spoty rival Jessica Ennis-Hill that she “slaps up good”, before adding that “a woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on her back”.
In addition, Tyson had told the Mail on Sunday: “There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the Devil comes home. One of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other is paedophilia.”
The largest gay rights group in the region, the Rainbow Project, confirmed on Wednesday that they will be demonstrating outside the awards ceremony, which this year is being staged at Belfast’s SSE Arena on the banks of the river Lagan. The Rainbow Project will be joined this Sunday by other LGBT groups such as Cara-Friend, HereNI and Fight4Equality.
John O’Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, said: “It is very disappointing that the BBC have ignored public opinion and refused to remove Tyson Fury from the shortlist even though his late addition came after his disgraceful and inflammatory comments about women and gay people.
“An excellent boxer Tyson Fury may be; however his extremely callous and erroneous remarks about our community make him an unworthy candidate to be recognised among the UK’s excellent sporting personalities and ambassadors.”
Courtney Robinson from Fight4Equality said: “In Tyson Fury’s neanderthal worldview, women are merely objects designed to entertain and serve men. He thinks our bodies are simply vessels for reproduction and we shouldn’t be allowed to choose for ourselves whether or not we want to have children.
“It is disgraceful that the BBC has allowed him to be nominated for Sports Personality of the Year. His personality is obnoxious and he should not be feted as a role model for young people.”
The protest will be at the SSE Arena between 5.30pm to 7pm, organisers said. Last week the BBC suspended one of its journalists from duty after he publicly criticised the corporation over Fury being on the nomination list. Andy West, an English-born Northern Ireland-based journalist, said he was “ashamed” to work at the BBC over its decision to ignore a Facebook campaign calling for Fury to be taken off the list.
At the time of writing, around 138,000 people had signed an online petition calling for him to be removed from the shortlist.
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