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'Not fair' to call JK Rowling a 'transphobic bigot', top broadcast regulator rules

It is the first complaint upheld by The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) since 2018

2021-04-16

Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Wiki

An Irish broadcasting regulator has upheld a complaint that it was "not fair" for a panelist to call JK Rowling a "transphobic bigot" during a broadcast.

The comments were made about the Harry Potter author on The Last Word with Matt Cooper on Today FM last September.

Announcing its decision yesterday, The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) said that the segment lacked “balance, impartiality or objectivity”.

They added there was no evidence to support this "very serious accusation."

From October 2020 and January 2021, the BAI's Compliance Committee considered 10 complaints. Of these, only the complaint in question was upheld, and nine rejected.

The regulator has rejected every complaint made to it since 2018, according to The Times, including 64 in 2020 and 71 in 2019. Only two of 73 complaints were upheld in 2019.

According to the publication, Last FM said the panelist was entitled to express their opinion that Rowling exhibited characteristics of transphobia.

The BAI added: “The committee were 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.”

"I refuse to bow down"

September's broadcast followed a series of headline-generating public statements by Rowling about sex and gender.

In an infamous June 2020 essay, she said: "I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it."

In December 2019 Rowling also tweeted support for an anti-trans researcher Maya Forstater after her views were described in court as "not worthy of respect in a democratic society."

“Dress however you please,” Rowling told her 14 million followers. “Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.”

Olympic diver Tom Daley this week described what he'd say to Rowling, given the chance, explaining: "I guess it would be a conversation rather than a shouting match. I always try to listen first and try to understand, and then try to share my point of view and my opinions and show how things [said] can hurt other people, to try to get the best outcome.”

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