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J.K. Rowling vs. India Willoughby: Here's what you need to know

J.K. Rowling vs. India Willoughby: Here's what you need to know

JK Rowling India Willoughby
Instagram (@robertgalbraith; @indiawilloughby_real)

India Willoughby has filed a police complaint against JK Rowling for hate speech.

Notorious sexist, anti-semite, and TERF J.K. Rowling is in the middle of a feud that might soon explode.

Rowling, who rose to fame writing the Harry Potter series of books and then ruined her image by becoming a hateful fearmonger, is currently in a feud with India Willoughby, a female TV reporter who is credited as the first trans TV news reporter in the United Kingdom.

If you’re not familiar with her story, Willoughby has legally been a woman for years and co-hosted shows in the UK such as Loose Women. She has also appeared in the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother. Now, Willoughby says that she’s reported Rowling to the police for a potential hate crime after the author has continually misgendered her in public.

“J.K. Rowling’s definitely committed a crime,” Willoughby says in a video with Byline. “I’m legally a woman, she knows I’m a woman, and she calls me a man. It’s a protected characteristic, and that is a breach of both the Equalities Act and the Gender Recognition Act.”

She continued to say that since Rowling’s tweets about her, she’s received some of the worst online harassment that she’s ever seen. When the interviewer asked if she plans on doing anything about it, Willoughby revealed she filed a complaint with the police.

“Well I’ve been to the police and I reported it as an issue,” Willoughby said. “I have reported J.K. Rowling to the police for what she said, which I don’t know if that’s going to be treated as a hate crime, malicious communications — but it’s a cut-and-dry offense, as far as I’m concerned.”

Rowling replied on X/Twitter, where she wrote that “some time ago, lawyers advised me that not only did I have a clearly winnable case against India Willoughby for defamation, but that India's obsessive targeting of me over the past few years may meet the legal threshold for harassment.”

“Surprisingly for such an eminent legal authority, he appears to have forgotten that the Forstater ruling established that gender critical views can be protected in law as a philosophical belief. No law compels anyone to pretend to believe that India is a woman,” Rowling continued.

“Aware as I am that it's an offense to lie to law enforcement, I'll simply have to explain to the police that, in my view, India is a classic example of the male narcissist who lives in a state of perpetual rage that he can't compel women to take him at his own valuation,” she said.

Unfortunately, the U.K. has some very confusing rules regarding hate speech and whether or not gender critical beliefs are protected as “philosophical beliefs” in the country. The country’s Equality Act says that a belief must meet five criteria to be protected:

  1. It must be genuinely held.
  2. It must be a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available.
  3. It must be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behavior.
  4. It must be a belief that attains a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance.
  5. It must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not be incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.

This last point is what had previously been used to disqualify gender critical beliefs and misgendering from being protected speech, as it clearly is incompatible “with human dignity” and “the fundamental rights of others.”

However, when the issue was brought to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, the tribunal ruled that categorizing misgendering as hate speech was an error and that a belief would only fail to satisfy that criteria if “it was the kind of belief of which would be akin to Nazism or totalitarianism.”

When the Nazis rose to power in Germany, one thing they did was strip away rights from trans people, who had been legally allowed to live as their correct gender and change their names under the Weimar Republic.

In 2022, Russia’s totalitarian ruler Vladimir Putin praised Rowling for sharing the same battle as him. “They canceled Rowling recently, the children's author. Her books are published all over the world, [but they canceled her] just because she didn't satisfy the demands of gender rights," Putin said. “They are now trying to cancel our country. I'm talking about the progressive discrimination of everything to do with Russia.”

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Mey Rude

Mey Rude is a journalist and cultural critic who has been covering queer news for a decade. The transgender, Latina lesbian lives in Los Angeles with her fiancée.

Mey Rude is a journalist and cultural critic who has been covering queer news for a decade. The transgender, Latina lesbian lives in Los Angeles with her fiancée.