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JK Rowling and Elon Musk criticise new Scottish hate crime laws

Rowling, best known for writing the Harry Potter book series, has said she will not delete social media posts that could breach the new hate crime laws – which she branded “ludicrous”.
The controversial legislation will make it an offence to stir up hatred against protected characteristics, including age, disability, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity.
However, concerns have been raised over the potential criminalisation of freedom of expression.
The author, 58, was joined in attacking the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act, which comes into effect on April 1, by Tesla boss Musk. The South African-born billionaire criticised the new Scottish laws in response to a post from Malaysian right-wing influencer Ian Miles Cheong.

 

 

Cheong had summarised a story in The Herald about training which police are to receive around policing the new bill. He wrote: “Under the new hate crime law, people who make fun of or misgender trans people, make racial jokes or criticisms of certain religions, or criticize migrants can be prosecuted.
“The different ways in which a person may communicate material to another person are by: displaying, publishing or distributing the material, for example on a sign, on the internet through websites, blogs, podcasts, social media etc., either directly, or by forwarding or repeating material that originates from a third party, through printed media such as magazine publications or leaflets.’” Cheong added: “Repeat a joke you heard online, or show someone a spicy meme or commentary of a transgender person or mass migration on your livestream, and, and [sic] you too will be arrested.”

 

 

Rowling has been highly critical of the new hate crime legislation, arguing the “police are going to be very busy” when it becomes law. Rowling became embroiled in a misgendering row with trans broadcaster India Willoughby, which saw police in Northumbria clear her of criminality after she stated “India is cosplaying a misogynistic male fantasy of what a woman is”. And now writing on X, the author responded to messages that she should delete the comments prior to the new Scottish law coming into effect.
Rowling wrote: “If you genuinely imagine I’d delete posts calling a man a man, so as not to be prosecuted under this ludicrous law, stand by for the mother of all April Fools’ jokes.”
The comments seem removed from the author’s previous statements. In 2020, she had written: “I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans.”

Responding to Rowling’s more recent comments, Willoughby said the author had “definitely committed a crime”.
She added: “I’m legally a woman. She knows I’m a woman and she calls me a man. It’s a protected characteristic.”
Willoughby also took to social media after the police ruling to state she had received an “avalanche of hate and abuse”, including death threats, adding: “I don’t feel safe.”
Rowling said she had also received a significant amount of “murder and torture” threats.
Rowling has also been a fierce critic of the Scottish Government’s gender reform plans, arguing the proposals would have infringed on women’s safety.

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