‘Are activists targeting me?’ Tory peer Baroness Nicholson’s despair over Booker prize trans row The Sunday Times 28.06.20

The original article is here.

Baroness Nicholson said yesterday that she was sad and surprised to be dropped as an honorary vice-president of the Booker Prize Foundation, the literary accolade founded by her husband, after being accused of offending a transgender model, Munroe Bergdorf.

The Tory peer, who is deaf, had held the role since 2009. Her late husband, the businessman Sir Michael Caine, established the prize.

Asked how she felt, she said: “Sad. Very sad. Somewhat surprised to be labelled by the Booker board members as homophobic, transphobic and racist.”

The row broke after Nicholson, 78, sent a tweet, since deleted, which described Bergdorf as a “weird creature”. This weekend she said she had apologised to the model and offered to meet her.

She tweeted Bergdorf yesterday: “Never meant to cause hurt/offence to anyone in the LGBTQ community whose rights I support. Only wanted to point out small minority with predatory and malign motives who use cover of Trans cause for their own ends.”

In a statement last week the Booker Foundation said the views expressed by the baroness were her own opinions, adding, “We deplore racism, homophobia and transphobia.”

Nicholson said: “I don’t know if trans activists are targeting me. I made a too sharp tweet — and deleted it — to a lady called Munroe Bergdorf but have apologised for unwittingly causing hurt.

“She is a close ally of the International Booker chair, who promptly raised the game by accusing me of racism, homophobia and transphobia which the Booker board immediately ratified.”

She said she had challenged the board but had had no response.

“I have not heard back from Booker on my challenging this suite of accusations. In normal times this would surely be a storm in an egg cup, which might just merit a line in Private Eye on a dull day.”

Nicholson, who has campaigned to safeguard women and children, including Yazidi women and Romanian orphans, made clear that the row had not stopped her campaigning against “inappropriate” sex education materials now being circulated to schools. They include some items promoted by LGBT groups in advance of sex and relationships lessons being made compulsory from this autumn.

She has written to the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, three times in the past three months about “unsuitable” information in a toolkit for schools materials on sexual matters.

“I was initially approached by a number of parents and teachers to help them have their concerns brought to ministerial notice. I found that I agreed with their concerns,” she said.

Among the materials she has complained about is a game that identifies human genitalia on each side of a die, together with their “rules”, including anal sex.

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