Humza Yousaf hits back at JK Rowling in row over legislation to tackle misogyny in Scotland

Humza Yousaf on a visit to Hunterston Parc near West Kilbride
Humza Yousaf on a visit to Hunterston Parc near West Kilbride -Credit:PA

Humza Yousaf has hit back at JK Rowling after the multi-millionaire author accused the First Minister of showing "absolute contempt for women".

The SNP leader said today the Harry Potter creator's criticism of planned legislation to tackle misogyny in Scotland did not make "any logical sense".

Yousaf said on Tuesday the Bill would cover transgender women who suffer misogynistic abuse – supporting the view of Baroness Helena Kennedy, a top lawyer whose work informed the planned law.

The Scottish Government is pushing forward with plans to create a stand-alone law against misogyny despite critics insisting it should have been included in the controversial Hate Crime Act which took force on April 1.

The First Minister’s comments this week sparked a backlash from Rowling who suggested trans women would have “double protection” under the proposed law.

The author, a frequent critic of Scottish Government policy on gender, said yesterday: "Once again Humza Yousaf 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."

Asked about Rowling's comments, Yousaf told LBC Radio: "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, is that many issues end up becoming culture wars, and they shouldn't."

Yousaf added: "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.”

The First Minister added that the legislation would deal with the perception of the accused, rather than the status of the victim.

"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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