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‘Not fair’ to call Harry Potter author JK Rowling ‘transphobic bigot’, broadcasting regulator rules


A broadcasting regulator in Ireland has said it is ‘not fair’ to call JK Rowling ‘transphobic’ (Picture: Getty Images)

Irish broadcasting regulator the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has ruled that is is ‘not fair’ to call Harry Potter author JK Rowling a ‘transphobic bigot’ after upholding a complaint from a listener.

The comment was made on an episode of Today FM programme The Last Word with Matt Cooper, and comes in the wake of Rowling coming under fire for her comments on transgender people.

Rowling first faced backlash last year when she commented on a story with the headline: ‘Opinion: Creating a more equal post-Covid-19 world for people who menstruate’.

Criticising the phrasing, she tweeted: ‘”People who menstruate”. I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?

‘If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.’

A number of stars who have worked with her on the film series of Harry Potter, including Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Eddie Redmayne and Katie Leung, have given their reactions to her comments, with Rupert saying he ‘respects’ her but disagrees.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them star Eddie Redmayne gave his thoughts on Rowling’s comments (Picture: Wireimage)

The Irish Times reports that the complaint about the September 18 episode took issue with the statement not being challenged by anyone else on the programme.

In response the broadcaster maintained that the panellist who made the comment was entitled to their opinion, and that the Harry Potter writer was just one topic out of many that were touched onm and was not a debate on transgender issues.

However the BAI upheld the complaint, saying in a statement: ‘While the principle of fairness does not require that all possible opinions on a topic are explored, or that artificial balance is achieved, the committee noted that the nature of current affairs coverage is such that the presenter plays a critical role in challenging the views of guests and contributors, in the public interest.

‘The committee had regard for the fact that, in this instance, the presenter did not challenge the panel member or facilitate the exploration of alternative viewpoints.

‘The principle of fairness requires that the approach to covering issues should be equitable and proportionate.

‘The committee was of the view that, given the seriousness of the statements made by the panel member, and the lack of challenge by the presenter, the broadcast was not fair. As such, the Committee upheld this complaint.’

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