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Broadcast regulator rules it ‘not fair’ to call JK Rowling a ‘transphobic bigot’

Josh Milton
·2-min read

Ireland’s top broadcast regulator has said it was “not fair” for a radio show panellist to call JK Rowling a “transphobic bigot”.

For the first time in almost three years, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) endorsed a complaint, one against a September 2020 broadcast of The Last Word with Matt Cooper on Today FM.

On the segment, a panellist referred to the Harry Potter author as a “transphobic bigot” in light of her controversial and inaccurate views on trans rights.

She has been fiercely criticised by not only LGBT+ advocates, who have called her views “dangerous“, but even Harry Potter film stars.

But the authority’s compliance committee issued a judgement Wednesday (14 April) that upheld a complaint against the panellist, according to RTE.

Radio show needed more ‘evidence’ of JK Rowling’s transphobia, says regulator

The complainant claimed that the 18 September show, a round-up of that week’s affairs, accused JK Rowling of being “transphobic, without providing any evidence to back this up”.

Presenters, the complainant alleged, did not challenge the panellist’s statement. Such a “serious accusation”, they wrote, needed to be balanced.

Yet, the need for balance when it comes to the so-called “debate” over the lives of trans people is one so “toxic” that it is harming British society, top human rights experts have warned.

Moreover, beliefs such as Rowling’s, LGBT+ groups say, have caused “significant damage” to the UK, prompting it to plummet in global equality indexes.

Today FM chiefs sought to stress that the story came up while the panel discussed tweets by Jedward – the pop duo who have made their opposition to Rowling perfectly clear.

Moreover, they added, the segment is a “lively miscellany in which opinions are encouraged” as hosts and guests discuss key headlines and topics.

The station said that the panelists believed that that JK Rowling’s opinions fall under the definition of transphobia: “The irrational aversion, anxiety, discomfort or hatred of people because they are or are perceived to be transgender.”

But the BAI concluded that despite it being an easygoing show, by not challenging the panellist’s opinion, it broke the authority’s Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs. Meaning that, it said, the broadcast was “not fair”.