Rishi Sunak appears to back JK Rowling as she criticises new trans protection law

The Harry Potter author is once again in hot water.

JK Rowling Rishi Sunak hate crime
© Karwai Tang / Gettyimages
JK Rowling Rishi Sunak hate crime

TW: mentions of transphobic comments

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JK Rowling was universally adored as the author of the immensely popular wizard series Harry Potter, but her controversial opinions have turned many against her in recent times. Rowling has previously outlined her views on the transgender topic, explaining that she believes the 'concept of sex' allows people to 'meaningfully discuss their lives'. She has said that she has friends who are trans, but that in her opinion, 'It isn't hate to speak the truth'.

Rowling has previously explained: ‘The idea that women like me, who’ve been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they’re vulnerable in the same way as women—i.e., to male violence—‘hate’ trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences—is a nonsense.’ Now, the author has once again sparked controversy following her comments on new hate crime laws passed in her country of residence, Scotland. The timing of her comments coincided with 2024's International Transgender Day of Visibility, which was celebrated on 31 March. Let’s take a look at what she said, and the unlikely ally who supported her comments: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

What JK Rowling said

The author has spoken out against Scotland’s new hate crime laws which, according to the BBC, ‘create a new crime of ‘stirring up hatred’ relating to age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or being intersex.’ The maximum prison sentence for such a crime is seven years.

On Monday, Rowling took to X to list - and mock - 10 high-profile trans people. After posting their images, she tweeted: ‘April Fools! Only kidding. Obviously, the people mentioned in the above tweets aren’t women at all, but men, every last one of them.’

Addressing the hate crime laws, she said: ‘Freedom of speech and belief are at an end in Scotland if the accurate description of biological sex is deemed criminal’. The author followed up this rant with the following:

I’m currently out of the country, but if what I’ve written here qualifies as an offence under the terms of the new act, I look forward to being arrested when I return to the birthplace of the Scottish Enlightenment.

Rishi Sunak appears to support JK Rowling

JK’s tongue-in-cheek readiness for arrest isn’t baseless: an SNP minister earlier admitted that Rowling could be investigated under the recently passed Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act.

However, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appeared to give Rowling some support. Soon after her post, the PM insisted that the Conservatives would always protect free speech. He said:

People should not be criminalised for stating simple facts on biology. We believe in free speech in this country, and Conservatives will always protect it.

People online have been quick to react to this unexpected allyship. One X user, @andrew_b72, said: ‘When Sunak is on your side you know it's the wrong side of history’.

Others have pointed out that the reporting on this issue makes it seem that Scotland is the only country in the UK with this type of law. However, a similar hate crime law against stirring up hatred over race, religion or sexual orientation exists in England and Wales.

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Sources used:

Express: JK Rowling backed by Rishi Sunak in trans arrest row over SNP's new hate crime laws

SkyNews: PM backs JK Rowling as row over Scotland's new hate crime laws escalates

The Telegraph: Sunak backs JK Rowling in trans arrest row with Scottish police

BBC: Scotland's new hate crime law comes into force


Harry Potter's Evanna Lynch latest to react to JK Rowling's controversial comments Harry Potter's Evanna Lynch latest to react to JK Rowling's controversial comments