Police are investigating a sign threatening to ‘behead TERFs’ at a demonstration in Glasgow yesterday when JK Rowling mocked the ‘temporary blindness’ of SNP politicians who posed near it on her Twitter account.
The phrase appeared on a billboard at a rally against the UK government’s interference in the Scottish Parliament’s decision to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to determine their own gender, and was accompanied by a photo of a guillotine .
It sparked controversy after two SNP politicians, MP Kirsten Oswald and MSP Kaukab Stewart, posed for a photo nearby.
Both later denounced the sign on social media, saying they were unaware of it when they posed for the photo – but this led to controversial Harry Potter author JK Rowling mocking the politicians against her nearly 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 previously described Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as a ‘destroyer of women’s rights’
The vast majority of demonstrators held placards with peaceful phrases such as ‘respect democracy’ and ‘Trans rights are human rights’.
Ms Oswald tweeted: ‘That’s a horrifying sign, and it wasn’t there when I got to the demo.
It certainly does not represent my opinion and is not a language I would ever use.
“Violent hate speech 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 hate speeches when I attended today’s protest in defense of Scottish democracy and transgender rights, and I strongly disagree.
“Violent hate speech is totally unacceptable and has absolutely no place in our public discourse.”
Shortly afterwards on Saturday, the author tweeted the photo of the two politicians, saying: “Some of Scotland’s wonderfully progressive and friendly politicians, posing proudly in front of banners calling for the beheading and eating of women.”
She later added: ‘A strange new form of temporary blindness has broken out among Scottish politicians.
“None of them could read signs calling for violence against women while standing inches away from them, but they were instantly healed when pictures of them posing with the signs reached the press.”
The sign was photographed for the demo in a pub in Glasgow. A second sign, also visible in the photo, read, “I eat TERFs and Tories.”
Other SNP politicians attending the Buchanan Street rally included Member of Parliament Stewart McDonald and Member of Parliament Alison Thewliss.
A spokesman for Scotland Police said: ‘We have received a report about a sign displayed at a rally in Buchanan Street, Glasgow on Saturday 21 January 2023.
“Investigations are ongoing.”
The legislation has been hotly debated after leading figures suggested that transgender people should have more access to same-sex spaces.
But the legislation is actually intended to allow 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 of gender-segregated spaces.
JK Rowling has long been an outspoken critic of the transgender community, even suggesting that Nicola Sturgeon was responsible for the rape of women because he supported transgender rights.
Ms Rowling previously said Ms Sturgeon would be held personally responsible for hypothetical instances of ‘voyeurism, sexual harassment, assault or rape’ that she believed would come out of the bill.
There is no evidence whatsoever that allowing 16 and 17 year olds to identify themselves will cause sexual crimes against women.
Trans rights protesters attend a rally on Buchanan Street on January 21, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland
A protester at the Glasgow rally held a sign comparing Section 35 legislation to Section 28 legislation, which banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality
Hundreds of people would have come to the march, many of them young people
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said he reported the sign to police at the rally, saying it was “clearly a hate crime and a public order offence.”
He added: ‘Good gracious [Nicola Sturgeon]your MP and MSP [Kirsten Oswald] and [Kaukab Stewart] really stand under a banner with a guillotine and this the slogan ‘Decapitate Terfs’? And this is meant as ‘progressive’?’
Fellow Tory, Jamie Halcro-Johnston wrote on Twitter: ‘Scotland in 2023 – where SNP politicians smile before a banner calling for violence against women. Shameful.’
Meanwhile, MP Joanna Cherry said: ‘I’m sure my colleagues didn’t realize they were standing in front of a hateful sign threatening violence against women and they will distance themselves from it.
“Soon I will have to testify again in court 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 concerned how inappropriate and offensive it was, and that she should remove it”.
Mr McDonald tweeted: ‘The violent sign at yesterday’s rally is utterly horrific and condemned beyond doubt.
I suspect it may even be illegal.
“The idiot who made it and is holding it has done those protesting for trans equality and democracy a disservice — quite the contrary.”
Chris McEleny, the general secretary of the Alba Party, said: ‘If only SNP MPs would come to pro-independence rallies as they do to the rallies they hold in front of ‘beheaded terfs’ banners.