Humza Yousaf hits back at JK Rowling in row over misogyny law

The First Minister said author JK Rowling had made an ‘astonishing accusation’

Humza Yousaf has hit back at JK Rowling after she accused the First Minister of showing “absolute contempt for women and their rights”.

The author spoke out after Mr Yousaf said a forthcoming Bill on misogyny would also cover transgender women who suffer misogynistic abuse. This aligns with the position of human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, who led a review that informed the proposed legislation.

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The pledge to create a standalone Bill dealing with misogyny resulted in sex being left out of the recent Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, which came into force on April 1. This has led to criticism from some campaigners and politicians, with Scottish Labour calling for the hate crime law to be amended to include sex.

Writing on social media on Tuesday, Ms Rowling said: “Once again, @HumzaYousaf makes his absolute contempt for women and their rights clear. Women were excluded from his nonsensical hate crime law, now he introduces a 'misogyny law' designed to also protect men.”

She said “trans-identified men” had sent violent threats to women, but would now receive “double protection” for their “so-called gender identity, and for also being, in the eyes of the Scottish government, a woman”.

Asked about Ms Rowling’s comments by LBC, the First Minister said on Wednesday: "It's an astonishing accusation to suggest the Government is bringing forward a Bill to tackle misogyny that has contempt for women. It doesn't make any logical sense.

"What I would say to people, to everybody, is unfortunately we are living in a day and an age where not only disinformation is being spread, but clearly many issues end up becoming culture wars issues, and they shouldn't be. This is an issue I would encourage anybody to simply look at the facts.”

JK Rowling. Picture: Stuart C Wilson/Getty ImagesJK Rowling. Picture: Stuart C Wilson/Getty Images
JK Rowling. Picture: Stuart C Wilson/Getty Images

The First Minister added: “That’s all I ask people to do. Look at the facts. What we’ve got in the proposed misogyny Bill, which we will, of course, seek to bring forward as soon as we can post the summer recess. [It] will be a Bill that will make sure that we tackle the pervasive nature of misogyny wherever it exists here in Scotland.”

Writing on social media earlier, Mr Yousaf said: "The faux outrage claiming trans women have double protection under the law because of who they are is as ludicrous as being upset that a disabled, black woman has triple protection under the law. It in no way diminishes protection against misogyny for those who are born women.

“Bad faith actors are intent on turning every issue into a culture war. Let’s not allow them to divide our society into those who are worthy of protection from hatred and those who are not. Let’s engage in robust debate, but one based on facts, not deliberate disinformation.”

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Mr Yousaf said the legislation would deal with the perception of the accused, rather than the status of the victim.

He said: “If a man threatens to rape a woman, he is unlikely to know if the victim is born a woman or a trans woman. That behaviour should logically be seen as misogynistic. Again, this aligns with existing legislation protecting people from abuse motivated by prejudice. This is not new.”



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