JK Rowling lashes out at new Scottish hate speech law


Scotland’s controversial new hate speech law, which among other things makes inciting hatred against transgender people a criminal offence, has been widely criticized by celebrities such as the Harry Potter-author JK Rowling and X owner Elon Musk criticized after it officially went into effect on Monday.

Under the Hate Crime and Public Order Act, passed by Scottish lawmakers in 2021, “incitement to hatred” related to age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or being intersex is now a criminal offense in Scotland .

Culprits can apparently receive up to a maximum of seven years in prison.

Rowling, who currently lives in Edinburgh and has been outspoken on transgender issues for years, challenged the new law in a series of social media posts, saying she “looks forward to being arrested” if the Scottish government believes she has committed a crime. .

She referred to several well-known transgender women activists as men and said “freedom of speech and belief is at an end if accurate description of biological sex is prohibited”.

The author further argued that in terms of this legislation, women are not one of the “groups” that enjoy additional protection against hate speech, although the Scottish government has promised to tackle misogyny in separate legislation at a later stage, according to AFP.

Musk, as well as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, also expressed their concern about the legislation’s impact on freedom of speech.

Sunak said in a statement The Daily Telegraph said “people should not be criminalized for sharing simple facts about biology”.

He further promised that his party “will always protect free speech”.

Further concern that this new legislation will be misused for political purposes was also raised by numerous consumers on X under the hashtag #scottishhatecrime, with questions in particular regarding how law enforcement officers will be trained to label something as hate speech.

The BBC reports that Scotland’s first minister, Humza Yousaf, however, maintains that he is “very proud” of the new laws and emphasizes that the law will “empower victims of hate while maintaining public freedom of expression”.

Sources: AFP, BBC, Sky News.