EuroNews (English)

J.K. Rowling 'looks forward to being arrested' following Scottish hate crime law changes

- David Mouriquand

Scotland’s new hate crime law has come into force, and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has some thoughts.

Specifical­ly, she’s claimed that the legislatio­n could harm free speech and that she “looks forward to being arrested” following the hate crime law changes.

Rowling has dared police to arrest her as she expressed her opposition to the new legislatio­n, which came into force yesterday (1 April).

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 creates a new crime of "stirring up hatred" relating to age, disability, religion, sexual orientatio­n, transgende­r identity or being intersex.

A person commits an offence if they communicat­e material, or behave in a manner, "that a reasonable person would consider to be threatenin­g or abusive," with the intention of stirring up hatred based on the protected characteri­stics.

The maximum penalty is a prison sentence of seven years.

The law does not protect women as a group from hatred, but the Scottish government is expected to include this later in a separate misogyny law.

Rowling, who has long been a critic of some trans activism, decried the new legislatio­n in a very lengthy 11-post thread on X, in which she singled out certain trans women.

“I’m currently out of the country, but if what I’ve written here qualifies as an offence under the terms of the new act, I look forward to being arrested when I return to the birthplace of the Scottish Enlightenm­ent,” she wrote.

She added that “freedom of speech and belief are at an end in Scotland” if what she termed “the accurate descriptio­n of biological sex” is “deemed criminal.”

Rowling added: “For several years now, Scottish women have been pressured by their government and members of the police force to deny the evidence of their eyes and ears, repudiate biological facts and embrace a neoreligio­us concept of gender that is unprovable and untestable. The re-definition of ' woman' to include every man who declares himself one has already had serious consequenc­es for women's and girls’ rights and safety in Scotland, with the strongest impact felt, as ever, by the most vulnerable, including female prisoners and rape survivors.”

The Scottish government insists the law provides protection from hate and prejudice without stifling individual expression.

"I think there has been a lot of misinforma­tion," about the legislatio­n, said the Victims and Community Safety Minister Siobhian Brown, before going on to claim, inaccurate­ly, that it was "passed unanimousl­y" by MSPs in 2021.

Scotland’s First Minster Humza Yousef addressed the “disinforma­tion” being spread about the bill, claiming there is a “triple lock” of protection for speech - an explicit clause on free speech, a defence for any accused person’s actions being “reasonable” and the act being compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Yousef added that he is "very proud" of the new laws, saying they will help protect against a "rising tide" of hatred. He further insisted that he is "very confident in Police Scotland's ability in order to implement this legislatio­n in the way it should".

The row over the new legislatio­n has escalated further, as Conservati­ve prime minister Rishi Sunak has backed J.K. Rowling by saying that people should not be criminalis­ed "for stating simple facts on biology".

"We believe in free speech in this country, and Conservati­ves

will always protect it."

Rowling, who has faced a backlash for a number of remarks which have been perceived as transphobi­c, was reported to the police last month over accusation­s of transphobi­c abuse, after she said the broadcaste­r India Willoughby - who was mentioned in Rowling’s X thread - “didn’t become a woman” and is “cosplaying a misogynist­ic male fantasy of what a woman is”.

Willoughby said Rowling’s words were “in breach of both the Equality Act and the Gender Recognitio­n Act” and later said on X that it was recorded as a noncrime hate incident.

In response, Rowling said that the “police are going to be very busy”.

 ?? ?? J.K. Rowling “looks forward to being arrested” following Scottish hate crime law changes
J.K. Rowling “looks forward to being arrested” following Scottish hate crime law changes

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