- Best-selling author J.K. Rowling defended a researcher who lost her job over a series of controversial tweets.
- The researcher, Maya Forstater, publicly disapproved of U.K. government plans to allow people to self-identify their gender.
- She also criticized the choice to award a non-binary individual a spot on the list of the Top 100 Women in Business.
- After Forstater’s colleagues expressed concern over her tweets, her contract was not renewed. She challenged the decision in an employment tribunal case but lost.
- Rowling expressed support for Forstater on Thursday after the ruling of the case was announced. It is not the first time she has been accused of supporting transphobia, and she has faced extreme backlash.
Employee’s Controversial Tweets
J.K. Rowling has faced an onslaught of backlash after defending a researcher who lost her job over statements that were accused of being transphobic.
Maya Forstater lost her job at the Center for Global Development, a nonprofit think tank based in Washington D.C., after staff members raised concerns about a series of her tweets.
Among her posts, Forstater disapproved of the United Kingdom government’s plans to allow people to self-identify their gender. She also questioned the place a non-binary, gender fluid individual, who spends half their time as Pippa Bunce and half their time as Philip Bunce, on a list of the Top 100 Women in Business.
I share the concerns of @fairplaywomen that radically expanding the legal definition of ‘women’ so that it can include both males and females makes it a meaningless concept, and will undermine women’s rights & protections for vulnerable women & girls.— Maya Forstater (@MForstater) September 2, 2018
What I am so surprised at is that smart people who I admire, who are absolutely pro-science in other areas, and champion human rights & womens rights are tying themselves in knots to avoid saying the truth that men cannot change into women (because that might hurt mens feelings)— Maya Forstater (@MForstater) September 30, 2018
Bunce does not ‘masquerade as female’ he is a man who likes to express himself part of the week by wearing a dress. I have no problem with men wearing dresses, but we don’t need to confuse acting in a stereotypically feminine manner with being a woman! https://t.co/Nvk3S8jeSg pic.twitter.com/TMy8SMshct— Maya Forstater (@MForstater) September 25, 2018
When Forstater’s contract with CGD was not extended at the end of 2018, she challenged the decision. She received news on Wednesday that she had lost the employment tribunal case after Judge James Tayler ruled her language was “offensive and exclusionary.”
“…It is a core component of [Forstater’s] belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment,” Tayler wrote.
“The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society,” the judge added.
Rowling, who has 14.6 million followers on Twitter, launched her own contribution to the #IStandWithMaya campaign when she publicly defended Forstater in a post.
“Dress however you please,” Rowling wrote. “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?”
Rowling Slammed for Tweet
Rowling’s post catapulted her name into the top trending Twitter topics on Thursday as many jumped to express disappointment in the best-selling author.
as Dumbledore said “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”— Jacob “Double Trouble” Tobia (@JacobTobia) December 19, 2019
today, we’re being brave and standing up against you + your transphobia @jk_rowling
i am heartbroken
you used to be a hero of mine https://t.co/nq3FKP7vnv
This is not the first time that Rowling has been accused of being transphobic. Last year, after Rowling liked a tweet calling trans women “men in dresses,” her reps claimed that she had a “middle-aged moment” and accidentally liked the tweet by holding her phone incorrectly.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLADD, chimed in on Rowling’s post as well.
The organization told Variety that they reached out to Rowling’s team and offered to facilitate a conversation between the author and members of the trans community. GLAAD said that Rowling’s reps declined.
See what others are saying: (New York Times) (Forbes) (CNN)
Nigerian Gunmen Kidnap Over 300 Students From Boarding School
- Gunmen abducted 317 girls from a Nigerian boarding school early Friday morning, making it the second major abduction in the northwest area of the country in over a week.
- Militants loaded some girls on trucks while others were walked into the nearby Rugu forest, which covers hundreds of miles and is spread over three states.
- Authorities believe these abductions are being carried out by armed bandit groups seeking random rather than the jihadist groups in the region.
- According to terror analysts, kidnapping is quickly becoming one of the most thriving industries in Nigeria and has led to 10.5 million Nigerian children being out of school – the most of any nation.
Abductions Before Dawn
Gunmen abducted 317 students early Friday morning from the Nigerian Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara state.
They entered the building shooting, although it’s clear if anyone was hurt, and forced many girls onto trucks while others into the nearby Rugu forest, which covers hundreds of square miles and crosses multiple states. Some girls escaped, but by morning it was clear to the local community that hundreds were taken.
Zamfara police and security forces, backed by Nigerian army reinforcements, said they are in pursuit of the abductors.
This abduction is the second in a little over a week in the northwest area of the country. At the Kagara Government Science College in Niger state, dozens of schoolboys were abducted on February 17.
In December, 344 boys in Katsina state were also abducted before being freed a week later. At the time, the kidnappers claimed a ransom had been paid, a common motivation for such abductions, but security forces say the children were freed after they had surrounded the group.
Was the Kidnapping for Ransom?
Many abductions have a monetary aspect, with ransoms quickly being demanded; however, it’s currently unclear if Friday’s events were carried out by local bandits looking for a payout or one of the nation’s myriad of jihadist groups that occasionally take hostages.
Most are leaning towards believing this was a kidnapping for ransom due to it quickly becoming the nation’s most thriving industry, according to Bulama Bukarti, a terror analyst and columnist of northern Nigeria’s largest paper.
Unfortunately, the constant kidnapping in less-stable parts of the country, along with economic hardships, have caused parents to pull their children out of schools. Currently, there are more than 10.5 million Nigerian children out of school, the most of any nation. The issue is so prevalent that 1 in 5 of the world’s unschooled children are in Nigeria.
The government has struggled to respond to the rise of kidnappings, with officials both on the civilian side and within the military unsure of how to proceed. On one hand, there are those who want to deal with the issue head-on and attack kidnappers, but others want to try and resolve the issue with dialogue.
See what others are Saying: (NPR) (CNN) (Wall Street Journal)
Malaysian Man Wins Challenge Against Islamic Law Banning Gay Sex
- On Thursday, a Malaysian man in the state of Selangor successfully challenged the state’s Sharia Law ban on gay sex.
- His legal argument revolved around Malaysia’s two-track legal system that features Sharia Law Courts in some states for certain crimes, and Federal courts for everything else.
- While the Islamic courts and Sharia law are allowed to regulate divorce, property, religion, and some criminal codes, they cannot enact laws that conflict with Federal law.
- Malaysia’s top court unanimously found that Selangor’s Islamic-based anti-gay sex law conflicted with the countries rarely-enforced national ban on gay sex.
Malaysia Upholds Federal Law Over Sharia Law
The Malaysian LGBTQ+ community won a major legal victory in the Muslim-majority country on Thursday after a man successfully challenged an Islamic law ban on sex “against the order of nature.”
The case started back in Selangor state when eleven men were arrested for allegedly having sex together in 2018. In 2019, five admitted to the charge and received six strokes by cane, a fine, and jail terms of up to seven months.
But one man, whose name was withheld by his lawyers to protect his identity, challenged the charges. His defense revolved around how Malaysia’s legal system works.
The country, which is 60% Muslim, has both Islamic Sharia law and associated courts in many states, as well as federal laws and courts. The Sharia courts, locally called Syariah courts, are allowed to deal with Islamic law issues such as divorce, property, religion, and certain criminal matters. However, they’re barred from passing laws that conflict with federal law.
The accused pointed out that Malaysia already had an anti-gay sex statute that was leftover from its days as a British colony. The exact same statute can be found throughout former British colonial holdings like India and Pakistan and is known as Section 377.
His argument went on to say that therefore, Selangor shouldn’t have passed its Islamic anti-gay law and the Sharia court didn’t have jurisdiction over the matter.
An Important Victory
Malaysia’s top civil court unanimously agreed, striking down Selangor’s anti-gay sex statute for conflicting with federal law.
The ruling is considered a massive victory for LGBTQ+ people in Malaysia, despite there still being a federal anti-gay statute, because it’s rarely enforced. Similar laws in Muslim states, for instance, are far more restrictive and enforced by their courts. It’s also rare that such legal victories happen in Muslim-majority countries.
Even with this win, there are still other states with Islamic anti-gay statutes, but advocates are now more hopeful and confident about challenging those laws when they’re used again.
See what others are saying: (The Straits Times) (Reuters) (Independent)
Anti-Asian Hate Crimes on the Rise in British Columbia
- A report given to Canadian police in Vancouver, British Columbia last week showed a 717% in hate crimes against Asians over the last year and a 97% increase in hate crimes overall.
- Prosecutors have been urged to more seriously pursue hate crime charges, despite them being harder to prove in court.
- The trend has been mirrored in Ontario, another Canadian province with significant Asian populations.
Massive Surges in Hate Crimes
The U.S. has struggled with anti-Asian hate crimes over the last year, especially in municipalities like New York City, which reported upwards of a 1,900% increase from one incident to 19 within the year.
However, the U.S. isn’t the only country dealing with the issue. Similar trends have been reported in Canada as well. A report given to the Vancouver police board last week found that in 2019, there were just 12 incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes reported in the city. In 2020, there was 98, which marks a 717% increase. Those numbers helped drive the stats of hate crimes in the city up 97% overall.
To be clear, crime overall has been on the rise, likely fueled by struggling local economies dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Hard To Pursue Charges
The report has caused Solicitor-General Mike Farnworth to push local prosecutors to seek more hate crime charges.
The region has failed to actually bring charges for most reported hate incidents, with the past year only seeing just one charge filed despite police evidence of such hate crimes. The issue at hand is that adding a hate crime charge makes getting a conviction much harder.
The incidents have led to a push for more strict anti-racism legislation in the province, a position that John Horgan, the British Columbian Premier, has pushed for as far back as June 2020.
British Columbia, according to an assortment of Asian-Canadian advocacy groups, has the most incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes, followed by Ontario. This is especially notable because they are the number two and number one locations of Asian populations in Canada, respectively.