Damian Barr: Broadcaster in hypocrisy row as ‘transphobic’ tweets emerge The Times 03.07.20

The original article is here.

A novelist and broadcaster who led a campaign to have a peer removed as honorary vice-president of the Booker Prize for her “homophobic views” has been accused of transphobia.

The operators of the literary prize cut ties with Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, 78, last week after she faced a barrage of criticism.

One of her most vocal critics was Damian Barr, 43, who tweeted: “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 and prestige.”

Lady Nicholson, whose late husband, Sir Michael Caine, helped to establish the prize, was criticised after saying she had voted against the same-sex marriage bill in 2013 because she believed “it would lead to degrading the status of women and of girls”.

Barr, who was born in North Lanarkshire and lives in Brighton, has been accused of hypocrisy after it emerged that he used offensive language to describe transgender people. In April 2009 he wrote: “Tittering sickly @ story of 6’5” tranny who failed to hang herself from 5ft balcony this wknd. How many failures can one person take?”

The following month he referred to a “nice tranny charity”, adding: “lady-man truckers unite.” In March 2013 he tweeted that there was a “mad tranny going through my recycling bin”.

Before Barr locked his account yesterday it also emerged that he referred to women as “bitches” and sex workers as “hookers”.

Janice Turner, a columnist with The Times and a trustee of the Centre for Women’s Justice, accused him of double standards. She wrote on Twitter: “By the new rules of cancellation, which Damian Barr used to have Baroness Nicholson sacked from the Booker Foundation, it doesn’t matter how long ago you held, now unacceptable, views or whether you apologise for unpleasant tweets. Personally I detest such rules for anyone.”

Julie Bindel, an author and women’s rights campaigner, tweeted: “Hi Damian, what sort of person mocks a suicide attempt?”

Another feminist commentator wrote: “No one would have given a shit about tweets from 2013 if he hadn’t appointed himself Witchfinder General.”

Barr, the author of the memoir Maggie & Me and host of BBC show The Big Scottish Book Club, accepted responsibility for the tweets but insisted he used the word tranny “flippantly, not maliciously”. He said: “It is an unkind and hurtful word I’m embarrassed to have used. I apologised then. I remain sorry today. I listened and changed: I hope my solidarity and actions since speak louder than that word then.”

Lady Nicholson has denied being homophobic or transphobic, stating: “I fully support [trans people’s] rights and everyone else’s rights. I have been saddened by the fact that the Booker has declared this is not how they would see me.”