Nicola Sturgeon hits back at JK Rowling’s ‘destroyer of women’s rights’ attack: ‘It’s not true’

JK Rowling and Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has responded to JK Rowling’s claim she is a “destroyer of women’s rights”, saying the author didn’t upset her because it’s “fundamentally not true”.

Speaking to Sky News, the former Scottish first minister spoke about a t-shirt that JK Rowling had worn bearing a slogan claiming Sturgeon is a “destroyer of women’s rights” due to her support of Scotland’s gender recognition reform bill

“I stand in solidarity with … all women protesting and speaking outside the Scottish parliament #NoToSelfID,” Rowling tweeted in October last year, along with a photo of herself in the t-shirt. 

Sturgeon hit back on the claim on Monday (20 March), claiming: “She’s entitled to her views, but I know where I stand on women’s rights, I know what I’ve fought for and campaigned for all my life on women’s rights.”

She added that the claim hadn’t upset her, and that “things don’t hurt you if they’re fundamentally not true”.

The politician then explained that she still loves Harry Potter, and didn’t want to single Rowling out when talking about trans rights. 

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Sturgeon explained in the interview that she had faced “toxic abuse” for her views on the trans community and her support of the now-blocked gender bill in Scotland.

“I’ve had more toxic abuse on this issue, much of it from women claiming to care about women’s rights and women’s safety, than I have from probably any other issue,” she told Sky News.

“All of us need to take a step back and reflect on that.

“We can disagree … but we need to re-learn how to disagree in a way that is civilised and respectful and brings a bit of good faith back into some of these debates.”

Sturgeon added she regretted she wasn’t able to “take the debate and the discourse around it into a more rational place” while she was first minister.

“There is no other group in society where we take the behaviour of a tiny minority and use it to deny rights to that group”, she added, referencing trans convicted rapist Isla Bryson.

“I’ve sat in rooms with young trans kids talking to me about wanting to kill themselves because of the stigma and the discrimination and the inability to be recognised for who they are.

“The threat to women is abusive and predatory men, not trans people.”

SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes
Kate Forbes is a contender to become the leader of the SNP and Scotland’s first minister. (Craig Brough/AFP via Getty Images)

Among frontrunners to take over from Sturgeon as first minister is Kate Forbes, who has been criticised by the LGBTQ+ community for comments that conversion therapy is a “choice”, and that as leader she would “tolerate” queer people

She has previously spoken about her religious views, expressing that had she been in parliament in 2014 she would have voted against same-sex marriage, and that she is against abortion and children born outside of wedlock. 

Forbes has, however, explained that her religious beliefs would not be a consideration during policy debates, and that if she becomes first minister, she would not seek to overturn same-sex marriage.

“I’ve certainly said in this contest that I’ve given my honest and solemn pledge to uphold legal protections for every Scot, whether they’re male, female, gay, straight or trans,” she said.