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Wed, 25 November 2020

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Labour frontbencher Lloyd Russell-Moyle apologises for accusing JK Rowling of exploiting her own sexual assault in trans row

Labour frontbencher Lloyd Russell-Moyle apologises for accusing JK Rowling of exploiting her own sexual assault in trans row

Lloyd Russell-Moyle has apologised for his comments about JK Rowling (PA)

3 min read

A Labour frontbencher has apologised after accusing JK Rowling of using her own sexual assault as “justification for discriminating” in the row over transgender rights.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle said it was wrong to suggest the Harry Potter author “used her own dreadful experience in anything other than good faith”.

But the Brighton Kemptown MP has faced calls to quit his role as a shadow environment minister after making the comments in an article for left-wing magazine Tribune.

Ms Rowling became a target of abuse for trans activists after responding to an article discussing “people who menstruate” by tweeting: “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. 

“Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

After facing criticism, she wrote a highly personal essay explaining her stance on feminist and transgender issues were driven in part by the abuse she suffered at the hands of her first husband.

“The scars left by violence and sexual assault don’t disappear, no matter how loved you are, and no matter how much money you’ve made,” she wrote in her blog.

“I pray my daughters never have the same reasons I do for hating sudden loud noises, or finding people behind me when I haven’t heard them approaching.”

Ms Rowling added: “Like every other domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor I know, I feel nothing but empathy and solidarity with trans women who've been abused by men.”

But writing last week Mr Russell-Moyle said her comments were part of an effort “cynically to undermine the rights of others”.

He said: “We saw people like JK Rowling using her own sexual assault as justification for discriminating against a group of people who were not responsible for it.”

After heavy criticism the MP apologised online, posting: “I want to apologies unreservedly about the comments in the article that I wrote last week in Tribune regarding trans rights in which I mention JK Rowling.”

He added: “JK Rowling's first disclosures of domestic abuse and sexual assault in her recent article on trans issues were heartfelt and must have been hard to say. 

“Whilst I may disagree with some of her analysis on trans rights, it was wrong of me to suggest that she used her own dreadful experience in anything other than good faith.”

Mr Russell-Moyle added that he has asked Tribune to remove the line from the article.

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