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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
01 April 2024
JK Rowling challenges police to ‘arrest me’ over hate crime law

JK Rowling | Alamy

JK Rowling challenges police to ‘arrest me’ over hate crime law

JK Rowling has challenged police to arrest her if they believe she has committed an offence under Scotland’s new hate crime law after she made a series of social media posts.

The author, who lives in Edinburgh, described several transgender women as men, including convicted prisoners, trans activists and other public figures. 

She said the new hate crime law, which came into effect today, is “wide open to abuse by activists who wish to silence” others who are “speaking out about the dangers of eliminating women's and girls’ single-sex spaces”. 

First Minister Humza Yousaf said the law would deal with a “rising tide of hatred”.

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 consolidates existing laws and creates a new offence of stirring up hatred against protected characteristics such as age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and transgender identity.   

The law does not protect women. Yousaf promised a separate misogyny law in his first programme for government, however it has not yet been published.  

Rowling posted to social media: “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." 

She added: “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.” 

The first minister has previously said that protections in the legislation mean it will not be a criminal offence to say a trans woman in a man.  

However, speaking to the BBC, community safety minister Siobhian Brown suggested it would be for the police to decide whether a crime had been committed.  

Rowling’s posts highlighted some criminal cases, including transgender rapist Isla Bryson and Andrew Miller, who abducted and assaulted a girl in the Scottish Borders while dressed in female clothing. 

She 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.” 

Police Scotland says they have not received any complaints about Rowling’s tweets.  

The maximum penalty under the new hate crime law is a jail sentence of seven years. 

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