A Harry Potter panel has been axed from one of the country’s largest pop culture festivals to keep transgender fans “safe”.
Producers from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child were booked to attend London Comic Con to discuss how the stage show was made behind the scenes.
But the transgender charity Switchboard complained to organisers that it had “concerns about the potential impact on our community, particularly trans individuals”.
MCM Comic Con, which is putting on the festival at the ExCeL Centre which features hundreds of panels and attracts more than 100,000 fans, soon buckled and has now confirmed the panel has been scrapped.
It has sparked fury from gender-critical, gay and women’s rights campaigners, who have accused the fan fiction convention of “giving in to the trans activist bullies”.
Switchboard boasted in a statement that the organisers “have been receptive to our conversations” and have cancelled the panel in accordance with “their expressed commitment to fostering a safe and inclusive environment”.
The charity, which runs a helpline, said it “felt compelled” to complain after learning of “plans to feature any panels using the Harry Potter IP (intellectual property)”, adding that it would host its own “Pride Lounge” at the event which “aims to serve as a sanctuary where members of the LGBTQIA+ community and allies can find a quiet space”.
While no members of the Harry Potter cast or its author were due to attend, the panel was likely targeted because of JK Rowling’s view that male-born trans women are not women.
Helen Joyce, director of advocacy at Sex Matters, said: “No matter how hard extreme transactivists try to ruin JK Rowling’s life and career, they fail.
“She remains one of the world’s most popular and beloved authors, and it’s a delight to see the book-buying public ignore their attempts to destroy her for the heresy of saying that women’s rights matter, and can’t be protected if men can claim to be women.
“And so Comic Con giving in to the trans activist bullies isn’t just cowardly, or even pointless - it’s against their own economic interests.”
Kate Barker, co-founder of the gay charity LGB Alliance, said: “It seems having to breathe the same air as anyone who mentions the name JK Rowling or Harry Potter apparently strikes terror into some people. And all because JK Rowling stands up for women’s and LGB rights. She is not, and has never been, “anti-trans”.
“How incredible that a charity that seeks to listen to and help people is so afraid of a famous writer of children’s fiction.
“Time for LGBTQIA+ Switchboard to grow up and stop fighting windmills.”
A spokesman for MCM London Comic Con said: “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.”
It is the latest cancellation of JK Rowling since she went public with her disagreement with the stance of many trans activist groups that a man can be a woman if they say so.
Last month, The Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Washington, airbrushed her out of its hall of fame and Harry Potter exhibits, accusing her of holding “super hateful and divisive” opinions.
Meanwhile last year, The Boswells School in Essex dropped the best-selling children’s author from one of its house names after “numerous requests from students and staff”.
And in 2020 shortly after Rowling first went public, the editor of the world’s largest Harry Potter fan site The Leaky Cauldron suggested that people should stop buying her books or watching her films.
Some of the Harry Potter cast - many of whom made a fortune from Rowling’s creations - have distanced themselves from her such as Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson.