Damian Barr is leading a charge of writers, including one former Booker prize winner, who are calling on the Booker Foundation to remove the allegedly “homophobic” peer Emma Nicholson from her position as vice-president.
Lady Nicholson of Winterbourne, who voted against the same-sex marriage bill in 2013, is the widow of the late former chairman of Booker, Sir Michael Caine, who helped establish the prize. She is currently a vice-president of the Booker Foundation and a former trustee of the prize.
Nicholson had made posts on social media about the trans community. She also drew fire earlier this month over her views on same-sex marriage. Barr immediately challenged the Booker on Twitter, writing that “as a gay writer I feel very concerned that a person who is actively and publicly propagating homophobic views holds a position of such power & prestige in your rightly esteemed organization”.
As major writers including the Booker prize winner Marlon James and the bestselling novelist Sarah Perry lined up to condemn Nicholson’s position with the Booker prize, the foundation released a statement on Tuesday in which its trustees said that “the views expressed by Baroness Nicholson on transgender issues are her own personal views”.
“Baroness Nicholson has herself recently said that she retired as a trustee of the foundation in 2009,” the statement continued, “and was then made an honorary vice-president. She has no role in the governance or operations of the foundation. She is not involved in selecting the judges nor in choosing the books that are longlisted, shortlisted, and win.”