J.K. Rowling attends HBO's "Finding The Way Home" World Premiere at Hudson Yards on December 11, 2019 in New York City Source: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

J. K. Rowling Defies Scottish Hate Speech Law and UK Prime Minister Rushes to Her Defense

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 3 MIN.

"Harry Potter" author J. K. Rowling remains unapologetic about her anti-trans views to the point that she's invited authorities to arrest her. It seems Rowling has people in high places who'd like to be her friends: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leapt to Rowling's defense ahead of a looming election that looks like it might bring bad news to Sunak's political party.

Variety reported that Rowling was reacting to Scotland's new hate speech law. The New York Times detailed that the law "creates a new charge of 'stirring up hatred,' which makes it a criminal offense to communicate or behave in a way that 'a reasonable person would consider to be threatening, abusive or insulting.'"

The Times noted that "The protected classes as defined in the law include age, disability, religion, sexual orientation and transgender identity."

The law had ignited controversy over whether it stifles freedom of speech, the Times noted.

It certainly didn't silence Rowling, who took to X (formerly Twitter) on April 1 – the day the law took effect – to declare that trans women are "men performing their idea of femaleness," and to openly challenge authorities to arrest her after she called out 10 trans women by name on the platform – "including India Willoughby," Variety noted, "who in March reported Rowling to the police for alleged transphobia..."

Several of the trans women Rowling chose to post about are convicted sex offenders, but others – like UK delegate to the UN Katie Neeves, rape crisis center leader Mridul Wadhwa, and model Munrow Bergdorf – are people of note.

After commenting on each of the 10 she selected individually, Rowling declared, "Scottish lawmakers seem to have placed higher value on the feelings of men performing their idea of femaleness, however misogynistically or opportunistically, than on the rights and freedoms of actual women and girls."

"The new legislation is wide open to abuse by activists who wish to silence those of us speaking out about the dangers of eliminating women's and girls' single-sex spaces, the nonsense made of crime data if violent and sexual assaults committed by men are recorded as female crimes, the grotesque unfairness of allowing males to compete in female sports, the injustice of women's jobs, honors and opportunities being taken by trans-identified men, and the reality and immutability of biological sex," Rowling's post added.

Adding the hashtag "ArrestMe," Rowling summed up with: "I'm currently out of the country, but if what I've written here qualifies as an offense under the terms of the new act, I look forward to being arrested when I return to the birthplace of the Scottish Enlightenment."

Rowling has been embroiled in controversy around her anti-trans statements for years, and seems unlikely to need anyone else's backing. Nonetheless, Sunak tossed his two pence into the fray.

"People should not be criminalized for stating simple facts on biology," Sunak declared in a statement he provided to UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph. "We believe in free speech in this country, and Conservatives will always protect it."

As for the strife between Rowling and Willoughby, "In March, broadcaster Willoughby said that she reported Rowling to the Northumbria Police for repeatedly misgendering her online," Variety recalled.

Rowling clapped back on X with the assertion that "India's obsessive targeting of me over the past few years may meet the legal threshold for harassment," adding that "gender critical views can be protected in law as a philosophical belief."

"No law compels anyone to pretend to believe that India is a woman."

Rowling's latest broadsides come after she declared last November she would be willing to serve time in prison for her right to deny that trans women are women.

"I'll happily do two years if the alternative is compelled speech and forced denial of the reality and importance of sex," the writer declared.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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