Police not pressing charges after JK Rowling dares them to arrest her for challenging hate speech law

Rowling promised 'If they go after any woman' for similar rhetoric, 'I'll repeat that woman's words and they can charge us both'

J.K. Rowling, the author of the "Harry Potter" book series, challenged Scotland’s new hate speech law on Monday, and police have declared they will not prosecute the author. 

Scotland’s new Hate Crime and Public Order Act was activated on April 1. The text of the bill, originally introduced years before, warns against acts that "stir up hatred against a group of persons" of certain protected characteristics, including age, disability, religion or, in the case of a social or cultural group, perceived religious affiliation, sexual orientation, transgender identity, and variations in sex characteristics. The maximum penalty is a seven-year jail sentence. 

Rowling, who lives in Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh, began an April Fool’s Day social media thread by listing multiple biologically male criminals who claimed to be transgender just prior to being sentenced for various horrific crimes, expressing mock relief their avowed gender identities were being respected. She then switched her rhetoric and declared, "Only kidding. Obviously, the people mentioned in the above tweets aren't women at all, but men, every last one of them." 

After slamming Scotland’s new hate speech bill directly, Rowling declared, "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."

The BBC reported on Tuesday afternoon that "Social media comments made by JK Rowling challenging Scotland's new hate crime law are not being treated as criminal, Police Scotland has said."

Rowling and police officers

Police Scotland reportedly declared their force will not take action against author J.K. Rowling for her online speech about transgender identity. (J. K. Rowling photo by by Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic. Scottish police photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.)


Rowling hailed the decision, declaring, "I hope every woman in Scotland who wishes to speak up for the reality and importance of biological sex will be reassured by this announcement, and I trust that all women - irrespective of profile or financial means - will be treated equally under the law."

After one commenter speculated that the local police are not prosecuting Rowling because she has massive wealth to fight such charges in court, Rowling vowed, "If they go after any woman for simply calling a man a man, I'll repeat that woman's words and they can charge us both at once."

Scotland’s new hate speech law has sent shockwaves across Scotland and the entire UK. 

The Telegraph reported that former deputy leader of the Scottish National Party, Jim Sillars, launched a campaign to "resist the Hate Crime Act and campaign for its repeal."

JK Rowling, transgender protestor

JK Rowling has spoken out numerous times on transgender people invading women's spaces. (Getty Images)


"Today on their own admission, Police Scotland will translate itself from a service into a force for one particular purpose — the pursuit of people who speak their minds," Sillars said. This law "inflicts a deep wound on the face of Scottish society."

Rishi Sunak, the prime minister of the UK, commented directly on Rowling’s challenge to the Scottish Police, declaring, "We should not be criminalizing people saying common sense things about biological sex, clearly that isn’t right" and that "We have a proud tradition of free speech."

Scotland’s hate crime law sparks backlash for free speech concerns

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