‘Eager to be arrested’: Harry Potter author challenges Scotland’s new hate crime law

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Writer JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, challenged Scotland’s new hate crime law in a series of social media posts — telling police to arrest her if they believe she committed a crime.

The writer, who lives in Edinburgh, is known for opposing the trans rights movement.

Rowling described several transgender women who are public figures as men and said that “freedom of speech and belief” would come to an end if “accurate depiction of biological sex was banned.”

The Hate Crimes and Public Order Law was created in 2021 and came into force in 2024, this Monday (1).

It criminalizes threatening or aggressive behavior that aims to “incite hatred” related to personal characteristics that someone has or appears to have — such as age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or being intersex.

The maximum penalty under the new law in Scotland is seven years’ imprisonment.

The new legislation does not criminalize the debate of ideas or diminish freedom of expression, according to Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf.

“Unless your behavior is threatening or abusive and intended to incite hatred, then you have nothing to worry about in terms of the new offenses being created,” Yousaf said.

‘ANXIOUS TO BE ARRESTED’

JK complained about the new legislation in a post on social media.

“Scottish legislators seem to have placed more value on the feelings of men who realize their idea of ​​femininity, however misogynistic or opportunistic, than on the rights and freedoms of real women and girls,” the writer wrote.

“It is impossible to accurately describe or confront the reality of violence and sexual violence committed against women and girls, or address the current assault on women’s and girls’ rights, unless we can call a man a man,” she said.

Rowling stated that she is currently out of the country, but ironically said that she “is anxious about being arrested.”

“If what I have written here qualifies as an offense under the terms of the new law, I look forward to being arrested when I return to the birthplace of the Scottish Enlightenment,” she wrote.

Police Scotland said it had not received any complaints about the posts.

According to Prime Minister Humza Yousaf, the new law aims to combat a “growing wave of hatred” in the country.

At the time of the law’s creation, he stated that it sends a strong “message to victims, aggressors, communities and society in general that prejudice-motivated offenses will be treated seriously and will not be tolerated.”

The legislation aims to stem a ‘rising tide of hate’, according to the Scottish First Minister – Getty Images

The legislation received criticism for not including cis women as a group that could be victims of hate crimes.

The government, however, says it is drafting a specific law on misogyny (hatred of women).

Encouraging hatred based on race, sexuality and religion was already illegal in the United Kingdom (which includes Scotland), but there is now Scottish-specific legislation on the subject, which has some differences.

One of them is that motivation by hate can be considered “aggravating” in other crimes, and can lead a judge to determine greater sentences.

A group of around 200 people staged a protest outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on the morning the new law came into force in March.

Supporters of the new law point out that it contains sections intended to protect freedom of expression.

For example, it states that a person accused of inciting hatred can defend themselves by showing that the actions were “reasonable.”

The law also references the right to freedom of expression in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which includes protection for “ideas that offend, shock or disturb”.

The Scottish Government says the Hate Crime Act provides protection against hate and prejudice without stifling individual freedom of expression.

“For those who think they can accidentally somehow break the law because they believe that gender is immutable, because they believe that an adult man cannot become a woman, because they campaign for Palestinian rights, because they preach their religious belief that Same-sex relationships are sinful; none of these people would be targeted by the law just for declaring their beliefs,” said Prime Minister Humza Yousaf.

“Why? Because just stating any belief, which may be offensive to some, is not crossing the line, is not engaging in what the law considers criminal behavior,” he said.

*This text was originally published here.

Source: Folha

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