JK Rowling challenges Scottish government over new hate crime law

Scottish Harry Potter writer JK Rowling has called on police and local government to arrest her for breaching Scotland’s new zero-tolerance law against hate crimes which came into force on Monday.

New Hate Crimes and Public Order Act Scotland , which came into force this Monday, is promoted by the Scottish Prime Minister, the nationalist Humza Yousaf, of Pakistani Muslim origin. Establishes a new crime for “incite hatred » with threatening or abusive behavior based on bias regarding age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender or intersex identity .

Basically, the law gives police the power to interpret whether a hate crime has been committed and requires them to investigate every complaint. The goal is to end discrimination, but it arouses very strong controversy and very strong opposition in Scotland. A protest rally was even organized in front of Parliament in Edinburgh. Detractors believe that it is based on subjective assessments of the person who feels offended and that it can be used as a weapon to settle scores since it would be the word of one against that of the other.

]Humza Yousaf speaks after being announced as the new leader of the Scottish National Party in Edinburgh, March 27, 2023. Photo: Reuters

Yousaf said the legislation, which is a Scottish update of the 1986 UK law against such offences, aims to consolidate existing laws. “(The new law) protects people from a rising tide of hatred that we have seen too often in our society recently said Yousaf, who became leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and first minister in March last year following the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon.

The main opponent of this law is Harry Potter writer JK Rowling. who is Scottish, accused of leading a crusade against transgender people since she began making contrary comments in 2019. The author believes that a person should be legally considered based on the gender they were born with. Their campaign became more aggressive last year when the left-wing nationalist Scottish government approved the so-called Trans Act, which allowed gender self-determination from the age of 16 without the need for a medical certificate. The British central government vetoed the law. The decision was brought before the Scottish courts, which ruled in favor of London.

Also, JK Rowling, 58, has referred to various transgender women on social media as men, using the masculine article, naming them by their birth sex and not by how they are defined now. And he included the empowering message: “I am currently abroad, but if what I have written is classified as a crime under the new law, I expect to be arrested on my return to the birthplace of the Scottish Enlightenment. “.

Scottish police, who said they had received several complaints against the author, announced through a spokesperson on Tuesday that Rowling’s comments “are not considered criminal and will not be the subject of any action”.

Sunak also attacks the law

The Scottish Minister for Victims and Communities, Siobhian Brown , took up the challenge and said that although using the wrong pronoun is not a crime under the new law, “the police could investigate her if she is reported and if they consider her comments to be an offense “. So far, the police have not received any complaints, but the pulse of the perpetrator is there. Penalties for this type of offense range from very high fines to seven years in prison.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks at the House of Commons in London, March 20, 2024. Photo: Reuters

JK Rowling attempts to show the subjectivity of the new law, slipping within its limits. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has sided with the Harry Potter writer. “People should not be criminalized for establishing simple facts based on biology,” said Sunak, who blocked the passage of the cross-Scotland law from London last year. “In this country, we believe in free speech and conservatives will always defend that right. “he added. Yousaf assures that the new law defends freedom of expression.

And despite this strenuous defense of free speech, Sunak is criticized for the decision two weeks ago to label the country’s main Muslim organization as extremist for ending pro-Palestinian marches in London, a decision that was seen as a reduction in freedom of expression. For its part, the Scottish Police Federation, which represents all Scottish police officers, denounced the fact that Yousaf’s new law could cause people to lose confidence in the police.

Source: Latercera

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