UK

Police Scotland take no action over JK Rowling’s social media posts

The Harry Potter author has become an outspoken critic of the Scottish Government’s stance on trans rights.

Author JK Rowling thanked supporters who had backed her stance on the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act
Harry Potter and The Cursed Child Opening Gala – Arrivals Author JK Rowling thanked supporters who had backed her stance on the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act (Yui Mok/PA)

Police Scotland have said they would not be taking action over Harry Potter author JK Rowling’s social media posts about transgender issues.

The writer, who has become an outspoken critic of the Scottish Government’s stance on trans rights, declared “freedom of speech and belief are at an end in Scotland if the accurate description of biological sex is deemed criminal” on X, formerly Twitter.

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act – which came into force on Monday – has been met with objections from freedom-of-speech campaigners, including X owner Elon Musk and Scottish journalist and broadcaster Andrew Neil.

Posting about the issue on social media, Rowling, who is currently out of the country, added that if what she had written was an offence under the Act she would “look forward to being arrested when I return to the birthplace of the Scottish Enlightenment”.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “The comments are not assessed to be criminal and no further action will be taken.”

After the announcement, Ms Rowling wrote: “I hope every woman in Scotland who wishes to speak up for the reality and importance of biological sex will be reassured by this announcement, and I trust that all women – irrespective of profile or financial means – will be treated equally under the law.”

She also thanked supporters who had backed her stance on the subject, and vowed to stand up for other women who were prosecuted, adding: “If they go after any woman for simply calling a man a man, I’ll repeat that woman’s words and they can charge us both at once.”

Harry Potter author JK Rowling is a prominent critic of the new hate crime legislation, which came into force on Monday.
Harry Potter author JK Rowling is a prominent critic of the new hate crime legislation, which came into force on Monday. Harry Potter author JK Rowling is a prominent critic of the new hate crime legislation, which came into force on Monday. (Yui Mok/PA)

Ms Rowling wrote to one wellwisher: “I won’t ever forget the support I’ve had x.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made clear his Government is “not going to do anything like” the new Scottish legislation, as he insisted: “We should not be criminalising people saying common sense things about biological sex.

“Clearly that isn’t right, we have a proud tradition of free speech.”

Critics of Scotland’s new hate crime laws are concerned about their impact on free speech.
Critics of Scotland’s new hate crime laws are concerned about their impact on free speech. Critics of Scotland’s new hate crime laws are concerned about their impact on free speech. (Lesley Martin/PA)

The Prime Minister added that while it was not for him to comment on police matters, he “very strongly” supports the right to free speech.

Mr Sunak spoke out amid the row over the new legislation, which was brought in by the Scottish Government to consolidate existing hate crimes laws and to create a new offence of “stirring up” hatred against various groups of people.

Stirring up racial hatred was already a crime, with the new legislation extending this to other people on the grounds of age, disability, religion, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

Former Scottish Government minister Ash Regan has now said the legislation should be repealed.

When the Bill was passed in 2021 she was a junior minister, with Ms Regan – who is now an Alba MSP – saying she raised her concerns with Humza Yousaf, then the justice secretary.

Writing in The Times newspaper, she said she had raised “two core concerns” with him, about the “protection of vocal disagreement without fear of recrimination, and misogyny” – something Scottish ministers plan to bring in separate legislation to deal with.

With the Alba Party having launched a petition calling for the Act to be repealed, Ms Regan stated: “As a junior minister in 2021 I voted for a Bill that promised a pathway to additional protections.

“The reality, three years on, is that Scotland, our police and parliament have been embarrassed, left to traverse a self-destructive pathway.

“The root cause of this is the erosion of good governance to safeguard our legislative processes. I must now side with those who call for repeal.”