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by Staff Reporter
02 April 2024
Rishi Sunak: ‘Stating simple facts on biology’ should not be offence

Sunak pledged his party would “always protect” free speech | Alamy

Rishi Sunak: ‘Stating simple facts on biology’ should not be offence

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has hit out at Scotland’s new hate crime laws after JK Rowling challenged police to arrest her for labelling a group of trans women men.

Sunak pledged his party would “always protect” free speech and argued no one should be criminalised for “stating simple facts on biology”.

The new Hate Crime and Public Order Act 2021 came into force on Monday.

It creates a new offence for “stirring up hatred” against groups with certain protected characteristics, including age, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

Rowling posted a thread on X/Twitter to make the Act coming into effect. Alongside a series of posts and photographs of several trans women, the author tweeted: “Obviously, the people mentioned in the above tweets aren't women at all, but men, every last one of them.”

She went on to warn the new law was “wide open to abuse” by people who wish to “silence” gender critical people.

“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 added.

Asked for a response to her tweets, Sunak said it was “not right for me to comment on police matters,” but added: “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.”

First Minister Humza Yousaf has continued to defend the new law, last week saying he was “proud” the Scottish Government was tackling hatred.

He has also said the threshold for committing a crime under the act is “incredible high”, a position backed by his health secretary Neil Gray who said the “bar is much higher” than Rowling’s posts implied.

Police Scotland have confirmed complaints about Rowling's posts had been made, but the force does not consider them criminal. A spokesperson said: “We have received complaints in relation to the social media post. The comments are not assessed to be criminal and no further action will be taken.”

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