CAMPAIGNERS have called for the dismissal of an Oxford professor after accusing him of being 'homophobic and transphobic'.

A petition has been set up by students calling for Oxford University emeritus John Finnis, who teaches law, to be sacked.

More than 460 people have signed the petition in the seven days since it went live online.

It claims that Prof Finnis, who compared gay sex to bestiality in one of his published works, made 'hateful statements' in several academic papers published between 1992 and 2011. 

The Catholic professor has refuted that any of his writing was 'phobic' and said he stood by his academic work, while Oxford University defended its academics' right to free speech. 

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The petition brands it 'unacceptable' that Prof Finnis teaches compulsory lectures on the institution's main law courses, stating: "It puts a hugely prejudiced man in a position of responsibility and authority.

"It makes people who are affected by his discrimination question whether they should even attend these seminars.

"University is a place to focus on education, not to be...taught by professors who have promoted hatred towards students that they teach."

According to the university's website Prof Finnis was a law tutor at the institution for 54 years, before retiring in 2010, but he still 'teaches occasionally'.

In an essay written by Prof Finnis in 1994, he discussed how 'copulation of humans with animals is repudiated' before adding: "The deliberate genital coupling of persons of the same sex is repudiated for a very similar reason."

Professor Finnis told The Oxford Student that the essay 'promotes a classical and strictly philosophical moral critique of all non-marital sex acts and has been republished many times'.

He told the student paper the petition 'travesties my position', adding: "Anyone who consults the law faculty website and follows the links in the petition can see the petition’s many errors.

"I stand by all these writings.  There is not a ‘phobic’ sentence in them."

Speaking on Radio 4's Today Programme this morning, Dennis Hayes, an author at campaign group Academics for Academic Freedom, said lecturers should be able to 'say anything no matter whether people find it offensive'. 

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He added: "Students at every university are quite capable of arguing with their lecturers and making points and should be able to listen to different viewpoints and challenge them."

The university said it upheld an 'inclusive culture' and but defended its academics' right to free speech. 

A spokesperson said: "Oxford University and the Faculty of Law promote an inclusive culture which respects the rights and dignity of all staff and students.

"We are clear we do not tolerate any form of harassment of individuals on any grounds, including sexual orientation.

"Equally, the university’s harassment policy also protects academic freedom of speech and is clear that vigorous academic debate does not amount to harassment when conducted respectfully and without violating the dignity of others.

"All of the university’s teaching activity, including that in the Faculty of Law, is conducted according to these principles.