JK Rowling accuses Humza Yousaf of ‘authoritarianism’ after he calls her posts ‘offensive’

side by side images of JK Rowling and Humza Yousaf

JK Rowling took a swing at Humza Yousaf after the Scottish first minister described the author’s criticism of Scotland’s new hate crime legislation as “offensive” to trans people. 

Harry Potter author Rowling repeatedly criticised the new law – which expands existing legislation and adds a new crime of “stirring up hatred” towards certain protected characteristics, including trans identities – since it came into effect on Monday (1 April). 

Yousaf told BBC Scotland that posts Rowling made on X/Twitter misgendering a series of trans women – including activists, public figures and convicted sexual offenders – were “offensive, upsetting and insulting to trans people”.

However, he said her posts didn’t “meet a threshold of criminality of being threatening or abusive and intending to stir up hatred”. This was confirmed when Police Scotland said Rowling’s statements were not criminal.

Responding to Humza Yousaf’s remarks, JK Rowling claimed “most of Scotland” was “upset and offended” by the First Minister’s leadership.

“Most of Scotland is upset and offended by Yousaf’s bumbling incompetence and illiberal authoritarianism, but we aren’t lobbying to have him locked up for it,” she wrote. 

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JK Rowling, who has a history of espousing anti-trans views, used her social media profile to lambast the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act for allegedly placing “higher value on the feelings of men performing their idea of femaleness” than on women’s rights. 

She then challenged the police to arrest her under the new hate crime legislation if they believed she committed an offence. 

Katie Neeves, who was appointed a UN Women UK delegate and runs Cool2BTrans, was among the trans women mentioned by Rowling in her criticism of Scotland’s hate crime law. 

She described Rowling as a “bully” and said she’s received “thousands of messages of hate” after the author named her in her posts. 

According to the BBC, Police Scotland has received over 3,000 hate crime reports since the new law went into effect on Monday. 

A number concerned a 2020 speech by Yousaf, who was then justice secretary, highlighting white people in prominent public roles. 

Yousaf believed the majority of the “vexatious” complaints came “from the far-right”. He vowed the backlash wasn’t going to stop him from “continuing to speak out about racism or talk about the fact that we need more diversity in public life”.