Calling J.K. Rowling a 'Transphobic Bigot' is 'Not Fair,' Irish Broadcast Authority Says

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), the country's top regulator, upheld a listener complaint on Wednesday that said a radio show that called Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling a "transphobic bigot," last year was "not fair."

The BAI's ruling came after a complaint was filed against the Last Word with Matt Cooper on September 18, 2020.

The complaint alleged that during the segment, a panelist on the show stated that Rowling was transphobic without providing context or "evidence" to back up the claim, according to the BAI ruling.

"The complainant claims this statement was not challenged by the presenter or any of the other panelists. The complainant believes that this is a very serious accusation, and considers that the segment lacked balance, impartiality or objectivity," the BAI filing states.

The show's station, Today FM, responded to the complaint by stating that the show is a "lively miscellany in which opinions are encouraged," the Independent reported.

The broadcaster also stated that the transphobic accusation against Rowling was brought up in part due to a tweet, and was only a small section of the show's broader cultural discussion, according to the BAI filing. Had the segment been focused solely on transgender debate, the show would have presented a more balanced argument and information from Rowling, it added.

JK Rowling
Ireland's top broadcasting regulator upheld a complaint that said calling J.K. Rowling a "transphobic bigot" is "not fair." In the photo, Rowling poses at "Harry Potter and The Cursed Child parts 1 & 2" on Broadway Opening Night at The Lyric Theatre on April 22, 2018, in New York City. Bruce Glikas/Getty Images

Nonetheless, the BAI decided to uphold the complaint, stating that the overall context of the broadcast was unfair.

"While the principle of fairness does not require that all possible opinions on a topic are explored, or that artificial balance is achieved, the committee noted that the nature of current affairs coverage is such that the presenter plays a critical role in challenging the views of guests and contributors, in the public interest," the BAI said.

"The committee was of the view that, given the seriousness of the statements made by the panel member, and the lack of challenge by the presenter, the broadcast was not fair. As such, the Committee upheld this complaint," it added.

The ruling was the first time the BAI upheld a listener complaint in more than three years, according to the Independent. It was the only complaint upheld by the regulator out of 10 cases that were released on Wednesday.

The ruling comes after Rowling became embroiled in controversy in the past year over comments made toward the transgender community. In an essay published on her personal website in June, Rowling outlined her stance to defend a woman who lost her job due to statements that were deemed transphobic, and discussed her stance on biological sex.

Rowling has also come under fire for a series of controversial tweets, including tweeting "TERF Wars," (TERF is an acronym for "trans-exclusionary radical feminist"), and for insinuating that only women are capable of menstruation.

Her views have caused divisions among fans and co-workers, including the stars of the Harry Potter franchise—Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Eddie Redmayne.

"To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you," Radcliffe said in his statement last year. "I really hope that you don't entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you."

Newsweek contacted BAI for additional comment but did not hear back in time for publication.