JK Rowling attacks Humza Yousaf's 'bumbling incompetence' in hate law row

The Harry Potter author criticised the First Minister after he labelled her comments about trans people 'offensive, upsetting and insulting'.

JK Rowling attacks Humza Yousaf’s ‘bumbling incompetence’ after FM criticises her ‘insulting’ trans comments STV News

JK Rowling has attacked what she claimed is Humza Yousaf’s “bumbling incompetence” and “illiberal authoritarianism” amid an increasing row over Scotland’s new hate crime laws.

The Harry Potter author was responding to comments from the First Minister which claimed her X, formerly Twitter, thread was “offensive, upsetting and insulting” to transgender people.

In the thread, Rowling – who lives in Edinburgh – criticised the Scottish Government’s Hate Crime and Public Order Act while describing several trans women as men.

The writer’s comments were reported to Police Scotland as alleged hate crimes. The force found Rowling had committed no crime and also said it would not record a “non-crime hate incident” against her.

Yousaf said Rowling’s comments were a “perfect example” of how the law doesn’t criminalise free speech.

“Anybody who read the act will not have been surprised at all that there’s no arrests made,” he told BBC Scotland News.

“JK Rowling’s tweets may well be offensive, upsetting and insulting to trans people.

“But it doesn’t mean that they meet a threshold of criminality of being threatening or abusive and intending to stir up hatred.”

Responding to the comments, Rowling wrote: “Most of Scotland is upset and offended by Yousaf’s bumbling incompetence and illiberal authoritarianism, but we aren’t lobbying to have him locked up for it.”

Yousaf has said free speech is protected within the new hate crime legislation.

“Those new offences that have been created by the act have a very high threshold for criminality,” he said.

“The behaviour has to be threatening or abusive and intends to stir up hatred. So it doesn’t deal with people just being offended or upset or insulted.”

Yousaf was also reported to police about an alleged hate crime over a speech he made at the Scottish Parliament four years ago.

Like Rowling, police confirmed it was not a hate crime and said no NCHI would be recorded against his name.

Adam Tomkins, a law professor and a former Tory MSP who voted against the Hate Crime Act, previously told STV News that “misgendering” someone is not a crime under the law.

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act came into effect on Monday, consolidating existing hate crime legislation and creating a new offence of stirring up hatred against protected characteristics.

Those characteristics are disability, religion, sexual orientation, age, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics.

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