Literary festival’s Harry Potter quiz vanishes in row over JK Rowling gender remarks The Times 03.05.21

The original article is here.

A literary festival in New Zealand has cancelled plans for a Harry Potter-themed event because of JK Rowling’s comments on gender issues.

Peter Biggs, chairman of the Wairarapa book festival, reportedly decided to drop the annual children’s quiz after consultations with the LGBTQ community.

Seven Harry Potter novels and a multibillion-pound film franchise helped make Rowling, 55, the most famous author in the world, but she has faced stern criticism since expressing her views on whether men who identify as women are the same as biological females.

She was pilloried for alleged transphobia after publishing a blog post in which she argued that biological sex was real, with activists using the social media hashtag #canceljkrowling to call for a boycott of her books.

She also took issue with an article referring to “people who menstruate”, tweeting: “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

It triggered a torrent of abuse on social media and calls for her books to be boycotted. Further criticism came from young actors made famous by her films: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.

Toby Young, founder of the Free Speech Union, which is due to open its first branch in New Zealand next week, said: “JK Rowling is one of Britain’s most influential and respectable contemporary writers.

“This is why the decision by the Wairarapa book festival to cancel a children’s Harry Potter quiz because of comments JK Rowling made during an important debate on women’s-only spaces is chilling.

“If the creator of our most successful export since James Bond can be declared persona non grata, anyone can.”

According to the New York Post, organisers said they consulted literary experts and LGBTQ community members first.

“The overwhelming response was there was a risk around causing distress to particular members of the community and that was the last thing we wanted to do,” Biggs said. “We always thought Booktown should be an inclusive, welcoming place.”

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