Tyson Fury
Tyson Fury remains in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award shortlist despite backlash over his homophobic and sexist commentsGetty Images

The BBC is refusing to take Tyson Fury off its Sports Personality of the Year shortlist, after more than 51,000 sign a petition calling for his removal, following his homophobic and sexist comments. The BBC has said Fury was shortlisted because of his sporting achievements.

Last week, the Mail on Sunday quoted the heavyweight champion saying there were "only three things that need to be accomplished before the Devil comes home. One of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other one is paedophilia. Who would have thought in the 50s and 60s that those first two would be legalised?"

Labour MP Chris Bryant said Fury's "profoundly offensive" comments would lead to more young people committing suicide.

The BBC said they added Fury – dubbed The Gypsy King of England – to their list of nominees at the last minute after he defeated Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf on November 29.

"The nominees for BBC Sports Personality of the Year are decided on their sporting achievements. 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," it said in a statement in response to the petition.

The Change.org petition stated that: "The BBC clearly do not understand that by nominating Fury, who has on a number of occasions expressed homophobic views and compared homosexuality to paedophilia, they are putting him up as a role model to young people all over the UK and the world."

Fury, 27, married his childhood sweetheart, Paris, at the age of 19. Both come from the Irish Traveller community.

Fury has also come under fire after saying SPOTY nominee Jessica Ennis-Hill, "slaps up good" and "looks quite fit" when wearing a dress. His other sexist views have included that "a woman's best place is in the kitchen and on her back".