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by Staff Reporter
04 April 2024
JK Rowling accuses first minister of 'bumbling incompetence' over hate crime laws

JK Rowling has accused the first minister of 'bumbling incompetence' | Alamy

JK Rowling accuses first minister of 'bumbling incompetence' over hate crime laws

Author JK Rowling has accused First Minister Humza Yousaf of “bumbling incompetence” after he said some people could be offended or upset by comments she made online.

After the Scottish Government’s controversial hate crime legislation came into force this week, Rowling posted a series of photos of trans women on social media platform X that initially referred to them all as women.

At the end of the thread, which was posted on 1 April, she added a post that said: “Obviously, the people mentioned in the above tweets aren't women at all, but men, every last one of them.”

There were fears that such comments could be construed as a crime under the legislation and Rowling ended her post by writing that she was “currently out of the country” but that if what she said “qualifies as an offence under the terms of the new act” she “look[ed] forward to being arrested when I return to the birthplace of the Scottish Enlightenment”.

Though Police Scotland later confirmed that it would not be treating Rowling's words as a hate crime, there has continued to be confusion about what is covered by the law and how it is being interpreted by police.

In an interview with BBC Scotland News, Yousaf, who was justice secretary when the Hate Crime and Public Order Act was passed three years ago, said Rowling’s comments did not meet the threshold described in the act but added that some people might nevertheless find them upsetting.

“Those new offences that have been created by the act have a very high threshold for criminality,” he said.

“The behaviour has to be threatening or abusive and intends to stir up hatred. So it doesn't deal with people just being offended or upset or insulted.

“Anybody who read the act will not have been surprised at all that there's no arrests made.

“JK Rowling's tweets may well be offensive, upsetting and insulting to trans people, but it doesn't mean that they meet a threshold of criminality of being threatening or abusive and intending to stir up hatred.”

Rowling responded on X, posting: “Most of Scotland is upset and offended by Yousaf’s bumbling incompetence and illiberal authoritarianism, but we aren’t lobbying to have him locked up for it.”

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