The Guardian

JK Rowling’s tweets were not criminal, Police Scotland says

- Libby Brooks Scotland correspond­ent

Comments made by JK Rowling challengin­g police to arrest her for online misgenderi­ng do not amount to a crime, according to Police Scotland.

As the Scottish government’s contentiou­s hate crime act came into force on Monday, the author posted a thread on X saying the legislatio­n was “wide open to abuse” after listing sex offenders who had described themselves as transgende­r alongside well-known trans women activists, describing them as “men, every last one of them”.

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

Yesterday afternoon, Police Scotland confirmed that the force had received complaints in relation to the social media post, but added: “The comments are not assessed to be criminal and no further action will be taken.”

The act brings together existing laws. Under the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021, it is a crime to make derogatory comments based on age, disability, religion, sexual orientatio­n, transgende­r identity or being intersex.

As concerns continue about officers being overwhelme­d, reports suggest Police Scotland has received at least 3,000 complaints under the new act in the two days since it came into force.

Responding to the decision, Rowling said: “I hope every woman in Scotland who wishes to speak up for the reality and importance of biological sex will be reassured by this announceme­nt, and I trust that all women – irrespecti­ve of profile or financial means – will be treated equally under the law.”

Earlier yesterday, police confirmed that racist graffiti discovered on Monday near Humza Yousaf’s family home in Broughty Ferry has been recorded under the new act. The first minister said that the graffiti was a reminder of why Scotland must take a “zero-tolerance” approach to hatred.

On X, he said: “I do my best to shield my children from the racism and Islamaphob­ia I face on a regular basis. That becomes increasing­ly difficult when racist graffiti targeting me appears near our family home.”

The SNP leader robustly defended the legislatio­n, which has been the focus of a barrage of criticism about how it will be policed and how it could affect freedom of speech. He insisted it “absolutely protects people in their freedom of expression” while guarding “people from a rising tide of hatred that we’ve seen far too often in our society”.

Yesterday Rishi Sunak said that, while he would not comment on a police matter, “nobody should be criminalis­ed for saying common sense things about biological sex”.

Robbie de Santos, the director of campaigns and human rights at Stonewall, said: “The prime minister, and high-profile commentato­rs, are simply incorrect when they suggest that misgenderi­ng or ‘stating facts on biology’ would be criminalis­ed.

“This is no more true than stating that the existing law has criminalis­ed the criticism of religion. This kind of misreprese­ntation ... only serves to trivialise the very real violence committed against us.”

 ?? ?? The author had challenged police to arrest her for online misgenderi­ng
The author had challenged police to arrest her for online misgenderi­ng

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