UK: Hate crime charity criticises Julie Burchill for writing ‘transphobic hatred’

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Hate crime Charity Galop has become the latest LGBT organisation to criticise Julie Burchill for writing a highly offensive article about the trans community in last weekend’s Observer newspaper.

In a statement the London-based charity said: “We’ve been considering the Julie Burchill article in the Observer with an overwhelming sense of sadness and anger. Every day we work with, and get reports from, trans people who experience daily harassment and violence for nothing more than being themselves. The people who harass, hate and hurt think it’s OK to do so and articles like the ones last week help create a society that allows it to happen.”

Galop continued: “We’ve been asked by a number of people about reporting Julie Burchill, and the Observer, to the police, for hate speech. We absolutely understand the hurt and anguish that reading an article such as this causes people, however our advice is that this article is not a criminal offence. There is no legislation outlawing incitement to transphobic hatred (a situation which we abhor, and actively campaign against), and even if there was, it would mirror incitement legalisation that does exist.

“This legislation places a high threshold on an action before it counts as incitement – and the article would have needed to reach this threshold (for example directly advocating violence). The expectation is that even grossly offensive and hurtful articles would not be outlawed in legislation.”

The statement concluded: “Instead, we’ve supported the complaints to the Press Complaints Commission and the Observer, and we’re pleased that the Observer’s editor has removed the article from the website, and look forward to a more detailed response from the Reader’s Editor.”

On Monday, Scottish Transgender Alliance (STA) warned of “rising transphobia in the British media.”

The editor of the Observer, John Mulholland withdrew Burchill’s column and apologised for the upset that it caused yesterday.


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