Conservative MP Damian Green has suggested challenging JK Rowling’s views on trans rights is the same as calling her an “old-fashioned racist”.
Green, who is a former Channel 4 News reporter and was Theresa May’s first secretary of state following the 2017 election, made the comments at a hearing of the Commons Culture Select Committee on Tuesday (15 December), during a discussion on coverage of trans issues by the BBC.
The BBC has recently faced criticism over its current editorial practice of requiring critical voices in all discussions relating to transgender people.
When asked about the issue at the hearing, Dame Melanie Dawes, head of UK communications regulator Ofcom, said it was “extremely inappropriate” for broadcasters to seek to “balance” appearances by transgender people with activists from anti-trans pressure groups.
She added: “There have been some occasions where we have been told, and I haven’t seen the programmes myself, when in order to provide balance on trans issues, people who are opposed to the issues in principle are seen as giving balance to that debate… We would never accept people saying that racism was OK in a debate about race.
“It’s about making sure that we do that balance in an appropriate way, recognising that there are a lot of views around this.”
But, confusingly, Tory MP Damian Green then accused Dawes of comparing JK Rowling to an “old-fashioned racist”, according to The Mirror.
He told the Ofcom boss: “You seem to agree with the proposition that anyone who disagrees with any aspect of the current orthodox trans rights position is the equivalent of an old-fashioned racist.
“The most famous person who agrees with that is JK Rowling.
“I find it slightly odd that a broadcasting regulator has effectively said that JK Rowling and women who think like her are the equivalent of old-fashioned racists.”
“You did seem to be suggesting that women like JK Rowling were just beyond the pale, they’re not allowed to enter the debate,” he added.
“I think that’s probably an inappropriate position for a senior regulator.”
Dawes responded that her statement had been “mischaracterised, considerably”, and added: “Care needs to be taken not to cause offence and this is a very sensitive debate absolutely, and it’s one that’s changing all the time.
“I haven’t expressed a view on JK Rowling, and I certainly didn’t intend to.”
PinkNews has approached Damian Green for comment.