JK Rowling dares police to arrest her under new Scottish hate crime law

Dan Barker and David Churchill
Daily Mail
5 Min Read
A prominent gender-identity critic, JK Rowling has dared police to arrest her.
A prominent gender-identity critic, JK Rowling has dared police to arrest her. Credit: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Warner Bros.

Rishi Sunak has backed JK Rowling after she dared police to arrest her under controversial new hate crime laws.

As the legislation came into force in Scotland, the Harry Potter author issued a flurry of social media posts declaring that a string of trans women were men.

The SNP’s Hate Crime Act has been widely condemned amid fears it could be used for political purposes.

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It introduces offences for threatening or abusive behaviour intended to stir up hatred, which in Scotland previously applied only to race, and includes a possible seven-year jail sentence.

Ms Rowling, a prominent gender-identity critic, included trans campaigners and other individuals in her tweets, referring to them as women.

But she ended the thread by saying: “April Fools! Only kidding. Obviously, the people mentioned in the above tweets aren’t women at all, but men, every last one of them.”

The author, who lives in Edinburgh, added: “Freedom of speech and belief are at an end in Scotland if the accurate description of biological sex is deemed criminal.

“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 signed it off with the hashtag #arrestme.

As the 58-year-old’s comments whipped up a social media storm, the Prime Minister entered the row, saying: “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.”

A Government source said: “The SNP is taking Scotland down a very dangerous path, with potential for seriously chilling effects on free speech. We are clear that biological sex matters and gender-critical beliefs are protected in British law, and that won’t change while the Conservatives are in government”

Despite the huge controversy Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf said he was “very proud” of the Act.

Ms Rowling’s comments came after Siobhian Brown, the SNP’s minister for community safety, said those who misgender others online, calling a trans woman “he”, for example, “could be investigated” by police.

Ms Rowling, who warned of the effect on free speech, was reported to Northumbria Police last month for calling trans TV broadcaster India Willoughby a “man”.

Police later said the complaint did not meet the criminal threshold.

In her social media post, the author listed ten high-profile trans people and denied their claims to be women.

They included double rapist Isla Bryson, 31, who was initially jailed for eight years at a women’s prison before later being moved to a male prison following a widespread backlash.

Bryson, who was known as Adam Graham at the time of the offences, began transitioning only in 2020 after being charged.

Ms Rowling added: “In passing the Scottish Hate Crime Act, Scottish lawmakers seem to have placed higher value on the feelings of men performing their idea of femaleness, however misogynistically or opportunistically, than on the rights and freedoms of actual women and girls.

“The new legislation is wide open to abuse by activists who wish to silence those of us speaking out about the dangers of eliminating women’s and girls’ single-sex spaces, the nonsense made of crime data if violent and sexual assaults committed by men are recorded as female crimes, the grotesque unfairness of allowing males to compete in female sports, the injustice of women’s jobs, honours and opportunities being taken by trans-identified men, and the reality and immutability of biological sex.

“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 neo-religious 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.

“It is impossible to accurately describe or tackle the reality of violence and sexual violence committed against women and girls, or address the current assault on women’s and girls’ rights, unless we are allowed to call a man a man.”

Police Scotland said, as of Monday night, they had not received any complaints about the post.

Ms Rowling has won support from across the political spectrum.

Russell Findlay, the Tory MSP who discovered he had a non-crime hate incident logged next to his name, said: “JK Rowling speaks for many women across Scotland who see Humza Yousaf ’s hate crime law for what it is – another SNP attack on women’s rights.”

On social media, SNP MP Joanna Cherry said: “Pleased to see my good friend JK Rowling exercise her rights to freedom of speech and freedom of belief by tweeting in defence of women’s rights.”

But Ms Willoughby, one of those on Ms Rowling’s list, said: “The onslaught against me and trans people generally today caused by a particular person is unacceptable. As is all of her acolytes saying they are entitled not to respect, and to disobey the law on protected characteristics. It’s nasty, vindictive bullying.”

The new laws sparked a furious response by concerned Scots outside the Scottish Parliament on Monday, with many holding up gender-critical slogans.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “The big flaw in this Bill is it does not protect women against hate. There is no protection against misogyny and that is an astonishing exclusion.”

A Scottish government spokesman said women were already protected from abusive behaviour in law, adding: “The Hate Crime Act will help to tackle the harm caused by hatred and prejudice and provide greater protections for victims and communities. The right to freedom of expression is built into the legislation and there is a high threshold for criminality.”

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