JK Rowling suggests new SNP leader Humza Yousaf will ‘disappear through ice’ over gender reform plans

·3-min read
JK Rowling has responded to news the new SNP leader will seek to press ahead with the Gender Recognition Bill  (PA Archive)
JK Rowling has responded to news the new SNP leader will seek to press ahead with the Gender Recognition Bill (PA Archive)

JK Rowling has hit out at new SNP leader Humza Yousaf, suggesting his plans to press ahead with controversial gender reforms in Scotland will be his downfall.

Mr Yousaf, who was announced as leader of the party on Monday and is expected to become Scotland’s First Minister on Tuesday, plans to fight the UK Government over the Gender Recognition Bill which it previously blocked, his campaign manager has announced.

Responding to a tweet about this on Tuesday, Harry Potter author Rowling suggested Mr Yousaf will “disappear through the ice”, like his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon.

She wrote: “@HumzaYousaf is the kid who just saw the skater in front of him disappear through the ice, but yells ‘watch me, everybody!’ while wobbling straight for the hole.”

Humza Yousaf (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)
Humza Yousaf (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

Scottish MPs passed the Gender Recognition Bill in December, to allow people to obtain a gender recognition certificate without a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria - a process is known as self-identification.

The bill would have also allowed 16 and 17-year-olds to apply for a gender recognition certificate, and would have areduced the time a person would have to live in the gender they identify with before being granted the document.

But the rules did not come into force, as the bill was blocked by the UK Government, which used Section 35 of the Scotland Act for the first time since it was passed in 1998.

Then-first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the decision was a “full-frontal attack” on the Scottish Parliament, and vowed to “vigorously defend” the legislation.

Mr Yousaf is now set to continue with her plans, pledging to fight the Section 35 order in court.

Mr Yousaf’s campaign manager Neil Gray says the new SNP leader will seek to “defend democracy” by pressing ahead with the reforms.

“I think there is an important principle at stake here,” Mr Gray, who is also the Scottish culture minister, told Times Radio on Tuesday.

“Of course he is going to listen to the legal advice - he has to do that - but there is an important principle at stake which is about the democracy and the democratic mandate given to the Scottish Parliament that must be defended.

“A two-thirds majority passed the Gender Recognition Bill in the Scottish Parliament

“MSPs from every single political party supported it, so it is right now that Humza Yousaf - at the first time that section 35 of the Scotland Act has been used - tests that and challenges it, because democracy is at stake.

“We must defend Scottish democracy and devolution. Otherwise, what is the point?”

Mr Yousaf, 37, was announced as new leader of the SNP on Monday after winning a hotly contested leadership race against Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and former community safety minister Ash Regan to succeed Nicola Sturgeon.

Assuming he receives the nomination of the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, he will become Scotland’s sixth permanent First Minister. He would be the youngest person, and the first from a minority ethnic background, to hold the post.

Mr Yousaf is the only SNP leadership candidate who voted for the Gender Recognition Bill.

Ms Forbes said she would look to amend the Bill, while Ms Regan said she would put it to a citizens’ assembly if there was a desire to do so.