Oxford University chief won’t apologise for homophobia ‘not my job’ comments

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The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford has insisted she was “misunderstood” when she claimed it’s not her job to tackle homophobic staff members.

Professor Louise Richardson, who heads the prestigious university, came under fire for comments she made at an education summit earlier this week.

The university chief had said claimed she had “many conversations with students” who were concerned that professors held homophobic views, but them “my job isn’t to make you feel comfortable”, telling the students to “engage with them [and] change his mind.”

The comments attracted strong criticism from LGBT people, with activists pointing out that academics who hold homophobic beliefs are likely to violate the Equality Act if they discriminate against prospective gay students.

Others questioned whether Professor Richardson similarly believes the onus is on black students to ‘prove’ to racist professors that they are wrong.

Louise Richardson

In a statement today, the university chief responded to the criticism – but conspicuously failed to apologise for her remarks.

She wrote: “It is a matter of great regret to me that my words are being used to call into question this impressive, sustained endeavour to make Oxford a diverse and inclusive university. I am proud of everything we do in this regard and I give it, as I always have, my wholehearted support.

She added: “There has also been some reporting in the press, and a great deal of reaction on social media.

“I might have hoped that my track record over many years of speaking out against discrimination in all its forms would have answered some of those concerns, but I can see that I need to be crystal clear about where I stand.”

However, rather than be “crystal clear” about where she stands, she instead asked two diversity chiefs to “set out the principles which guide us”. The two officials recounted the university’s commitments to diversity.

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