Campaigners are urging the BBC to reconsider a petition calling for Tyson Fury to be pulled from the Sports Personality of the Year ( SPOTY) shortlist amid accusations of homophobia after it reached over 30,000 signatures.
The heavyweight boxing champion was announced as one of the sports people shortlisted for the annual award after his victory over Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday.
Fury features on the list alongside athletes including Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford. The final winner is chosen by a public vote on 20 December.
His presence on the shortlist has upset LGBT campaigners after comments he reportedly made comparing homosexuality to abortion and paedophilia during an interview with the Mail on Sunday.
"There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the devil comes home,” he was quoted as saying. "One of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other one’s paedophilia. Who would have thought in the 50s and 60s that those first two would be legalised?”
He has being homophobia and claims he was misquoted in the article.
Fury's inclusion in the list saw Scott Cuthbertson launch a Change.org petition calling for his nomination to be retracted. After his petition reached over 2,000 signatures, the BBC responded with a statement saying nominees are selected purely on sporting merit, not character.
It said in a statement: “As Fury became heavyweight champion of the world over the weekend, the panel feel that he should be a contender for this year’s award.”
The petition continues to attract attention and now has over 34,000 signatures. However, the corporation is not reconsidering its stance.
A spokesperson for BBC Sports told The Independent Fury was selected by an independent panel and stressed that candidates are chosen purely on their sporting achievements. The BBC said the panel is not planning to meet to reconsider their decision.
A spokesperson for the LGBT charity Stonewall said it is "extremely disappointed" by his nomination. “We feel this move is irresponsible. Sportspeople, whether they like it or not, are role models. They are looked up to and their views are respected by many fans, including young people. We are concerned that this nomination sends a message that being homophobic is ok. At Stonewall we’re working to improve lesbian, gay, bi and trans people’s access to sports and we need great role models to do this.”
Fury’s manager did not immediately return a request for comment.
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