Police investigate 'decapitate TERFs' sign shared by JK Rowling

Police investigate sign threatening to ‘decapitate TERFs’ at Glasgow rally as JK Rowling mocks ‘temporary blindness’ of politicians posing near it

  • Enquiries into the sign are currently ongoing, Police Scotland confirmed
  • The rally was against the use of Section 35 to block new gender legislation

Police are probing a sign threatening to ‘decapitate TERFs’ at a demonstration in Glasgow yesterday as JK Rowling mocked the ‘temporary blindness’ of SNP politicians who posed near it on her Twitter account.

The phrase appeared on a sign at a rally against the UK government’s interference with the Scottish Parliament’s decision to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to self-identify their gender, and was accompanied by a picture of a guillotine.

It generated controversy after two SNP politicians, MP Kirsten Oswald and MSP Kaukab Stewart, were pictured posing for a photograph close by. 

Both later condemned the sign on social media and said they were not aware of it as they posed for the picture – but this sparked controversial Harry Potter author JK Rowling to mock the politicians to her almost 14 million followers.

SNP MP Kirsten Oswald (left) and MSP Kaukab Stewart (right) were pictured in front of the sign on Saturday. Both later condemned the sign

JK Rowling has long been an outspoken critic of the transgender community, even suggesting that Nicola Sturgeon was complicit in the rape of women for supporting trans’ rights

The vast majority of protesters held signs with peaceful phrases such as ‘respect democracy’ and ‘Trans rights are human rights’.

Ms Oswald tweeted: ‘That’s a horrific sign, and it wasn’t there when I joined the demo.

‘It most certainly doesn’t represent my views, and isn’t language I would ever use.

‘Violent hateful language, of any kind, is unacceptable and has no place in the peaceful movement for LGBT equality and democracy.’

Ms Stewart said: ‘I was not aware of these hateful signs when I attended today’s protest in defence of Scottish democracy and the rights of trans people, and I utterly disagree with them.

‘Violent hate speech is totally unacceptable and has absolutely no place in our public discourse.’

Shortly afterwards on Saturday the author tweeted the picture of the two politicians and said: ‘A few of Scotland’s wonderfully progressive and kind politicians, posing proudly in front of banners calling for women to be decapitated and eaten.’

She later added: ‘A strange new form of temporary blindness has broken out among Scottish politicians. 

‘None of them could read placards calling for violence against women while standing inches away from them, yet they were instantly cured when photos of them posing with the signs hit the press.’

The sign was photographed at a cafe in Glasgow before the demo. A second sign, also visible in the picture, read: ‘I eat TERFs and Tories’.

Other SNP politicians who attended the rally at Buchanan Street included MP Stewart McDonald and MP Alison Thewliss.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: ‘We have received a report regarding a sign which was displayed during a rally on Buchanan Street, Glasgow on Saturday, January 21, 2023.

‘Enquiries are ongoing.’

There has been fierce debate over the legislation after leading figures suggested it would allow transgender people more access to single-sex spaces.

But the legislation is actually designed to enable 16 and 17-year-olds to obtain a gender recognition certificate before the age of 18 to change their legal gender, and has no regulation over single-sex spaces.

JK Rowling has long been an outspoken critic of the transgender community, even suggesting that Nicola Sturgeon was to blame for the rape of women for supporting trans’ rights. 

Ms Rowling previously said Ms Sturgeon would be held personally responsible for hypothetical cases of ‘voyeurism, sexual harassment, assault or rape’ that she believed would come from the Bill.

There is no evidence whatsoever that allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to self-ID will cause sexual offences against women. 

Trans rights demonstrators attend a rally on Buchanan Street on January 21, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland

One protester at the rally in Glasgow held a sign comparing the Section 35 legislation to the Section 28 legislation, which banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality

Hundreds of people are thought to have turned out to the march, many of them young people

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said he reported the sign at the rally to the police, saying it was ‘clearly a hate crime and a public order offence’.

He added: ‘Good grief [Nicola Sturgeon], should your MP and MSP [Kirsten Oswald] and [Kaukab Stewart] really be standing under a banner with a guillotine and this the slogan ‘Decapitate Terfs’? And this is meant to be ‘progressive’?’

Fellow Tory, Jamie Halcro-Johnston wrote on Twitter: ‘Scotland in 2023 – where SNP politicians stand smiling in front of a banner which calls for violence against women. Shameful.’

Meanwhile MP Joanna Cherry, said: ‘I’m sure my colleagues didn’t realise they were standing in front of a hateful sign threatening violence against women and will distance themselves from it.

‘I’m due in court again soon to give evidence against a trans rights activist who threatened to kill me.’

Ms Thewliss said she had not seen the sign and that if she had she would ‘have told the person involved how inappropriate and offensive it was, and to get rid of it.’

Mr McDonald tweeted: ‘The violent sign at yesterday’s rally is utterly heinous and condemned without question.

‘I suspect it may even be unlawful.

‘The moron who made it and is holding it has done those protesting for trans equality and democracy no favours – quite the opposite.’

Chris McEleny, the general secretary of the Alba Party, said: ‘If only SNP members of Parliament turned out to pro-independence rallies like they do to the rallies they pose in front of ‘decapitate terfs’ banners.

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