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JK Rowling dares police to arrest her as new hate crime laws come into force in Scotland

J K Rowling has dared police to arrest her as the Harry Potter author lashed out against new hate crime laws that have come into force in Scotland

The new measures aim to tackle the harm caused by hatred and prejudice, extending protections from abusive behaviour to people on grounds including age, disability, religion, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

A Holyrood minister, Siobhian Brown MSP, said on Monday people “could be investigated” for misgendering someone online.

Those who support the new laws insist they will make Scotland more tolerant. But critics such as Rowling say the legislation could stifle free speech – and fails to extend these protections to women.

Rowling put out a series of comments on X lashing out against transgender women, including double rapist Isla Bryson, who was jailed was jailed for eight years last year for raping two women.

File photo dated 29/03/22 of JK Rowling. The sport of Quidditch is to change its name in a move that is set to "distance" the sport from Harry Potter author JK Rowling. Issue date: Wednesday July 20, 2022.
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Harry Potter author JK Rowling has criticised the law. Pic: PA

The attacks were carried out in 2016 and 2019 when Bryson, who was born Adam Graham, was living as a man.

A decision to initially house Bryson in an all-female jail sparked a backlash from the public and politicians – and Bryson was moved to the male estate within days.

More on J K Rowling

Rowling said: “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.”

New laws ‘open to abuse’

She said 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”.

Rowling has long been involved in a battle with the transgender community, who accuses her of being transphobic. The author denies the accusation, saying she wants to defend women’s rights.

On Monday she went on to say: “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. Freedom of speech and belief are at an end in Scotland if the accurate description of biological sex is deemed criminal.”

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Scotland’s hate crime laws explained

‘Too much hatred’

The Scottish Government has said separate laws will be brought in specifically to tackle misogyny.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has defended the legislation, saying “there is too much hatred in society” and pledging a zero-tolerance approach.

Ms Brown, the minister for victims and community safety, said: “Nobody in our society should live in fear and we are committed to building safer communities that live free from hatred and prejudice.

“We know that the impact on those on the receiving end of physical, verbal or online attacks can be traumatic and life-changing. This legislation is an essential element of our wider approach to tackling that harm.

“Protections for freedom of expression are built into the legislation passed by parliament and these new offences have a higher threshold for criminality than the long-standing offence of stirring up racial hatred, which has been in place since 1986.”

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