The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 is a piece of legislation instigated by the SNP (Scottish National Party) government and passed by the Scottish Parliament three years ago. It comes into force in Scotland, where J.K. Rowling lives, on 1st April, a day traditionally known as April Fool’s Day.

The Act criminalises threatening or abusive behaviour which is intended to stir up hatred against someone who possesses, or appears to possess, certain characteristics including race, colour, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and transgender identity. Controversially, the protected characteristics in the Act do not include sex itself, so women who report hateful sexist or misogynistic comments targeting them because of their biological sex – for instance, exhortations or threats to enact sexual violence against them – have no protection under the Act.

The new law may open up to prosecution those in Scotland who believe and pronounce – publicly or in private – that biological sex is immutable and cannot be changed.

J.K. Rowling said in a series of posts on X/Twitter today:

‘In passing the Scottish Hate Crime Act, 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, honours and opportunities being taken by trans-identified men, and the reality and immutability of biological sex.

For several years now, Scottish women have been pressured by their government and members of the police force to deny the evidence of their eyes and ears, repudiate biological facts and embrace a neo-religious concept of gender that is unprovable and untestable. The re-definition of ‘woman’ to include every man who declares himself one has already had serious consequences for women’s and girls’ rights and safety in Scotland, with the strongest impact felt, as ever, by the most vulnerable, including female prisoners and rape survivors.

It is impossible to accurately describe or tackle 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 are allowed to call a man a man. Freedom of speech and belief are at an end in Scotland if the accurate description of biological sex is deemed criminal.’