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

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J.K. Rowling has dared police to arrest her as she expressed her opposition to new hate crime legislation that has just come into force in Scotland.

The new laws came into force today (April 1), making it a crime to “stir up hatred” on the basis of 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 inciting hatred based on one of these characteristics. Separate laws will be brought in to tackle misogyny as a specific offence.

Rowling decried the new legislation in a lengthy thread on X/Twitter in which she singled out and attacked numerous trans women over them them legally having a protected characteristic.

“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.”

However, Scotland’s First Minster Humza Yousef has addressed the “disinformation” being spread about the bill, particularly by gender-critical groups, 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.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 29: JK Rowling attends the World Premiere of “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Od Dumbledore” at The Royal Festival Hall on March 29, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Rowling was reported to the police last month over accusations of transphobic abuse, after she said the broadcaster India Willoughby – who was mentioned in the thread posted today – “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/Twitter that it was recorded as a non-crime hate incident. In response, Rowling said that the “police are going to be very busy”.

The author has faced a backlash for a number of remarks which have been perceived as transphobic, stemming back to 2020. Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have all spoken out against her views and defended transgender women and men.

A number of actors have also come to Rowling’s defence, including Evanna LynchHelena Bonham Carter and Jim Broadbent.

In October, Rowling said she would “happily” go to prison rather than refer to transgender women as “women”.

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