Harry Potter panel at London Comic Con pulled after LGBTQ+ charity complaint

Cosplayers attend London Comic Con Spring show at Olympia London, United Kingdom on 4 March 2023

A Harry Potter panel due to be held at London’s Comic Con event in October has been cancelled after conversations with an LGBTQ+ charity.

LGBTQ+ helpline Switchboard explained that the charity is due to appear at the event, which runs from 27 to 29 October, but that it raised “concerns” after finding out that a Harry Potter-themed panel was also due to take place. 

“When we agreed to host a Pride Lounge at this year’s MCM London Comic Con, we did so with the aim of connecting with their diverse fan community,” Switchboard wrote on Twitter

“However, at that time we were unaware of their plans to feature any panels using the Harry Potter IP [intellectual property] … Upon learning about this, we felt compelled to express our concerns about the potential impact on our community, particularly trans individuals.”

Switchboard explained it had since been in “conversations” with the London Comic Con organisers, who were “receptive to our concerns and feedback from their fans”, and then decided to cancel the Harry Potter panel. 

The charity added that its own space at the event will be a “sanctuary” where LGBTQ+ people and allies “can find a quiet space, connect with one another, and recharge during the event”.

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A spokesperson for MCM London Comic Con told PinkNews: “Following discussions between MCM Comic Con and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a joint decision has been taken for the production not to run the proposed panel on 28 October.

“The aim of the panel was to hear from the production team working behind the scenes. Thank you for your understanding.”

Since JK Rowling first began making controversial statements about the trans community online, with gender-critical comments first seen on Twitter in 2019, backlash against the Harry Potter creator and universe has grown. 

In August, the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle made the decision to keep its Harry Potter collection on display, but remove references to Rowling herself due to “concern for our transgender siblings”. 

Rowling, who has repeatedly denied transphobia allegations, claimed on the podcast The Witch Trials of JK Rowling that her comments on the trans community had been “profoundly” misunderstood.

“When I first became interested, then deeply troubled by what I saw as a cultural movement that was liberal in its methods and very questionable in its ideas, I absolutely knew that if I spoke out, many folks would be deeply unhappy with me,” Rowling said.

“Time will tell whether I’ve got this wrong … I believe there is something dangerous about this movement, and it must be challenged.”