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Police say Julie Burchill’s trans article was hate, won’t take action

Police say Julie Burchill’s trans article was hate, won’t take action

British police have recorded a transphobic columnist’s article as a hate incident, but have decided to not take further action.

In January, Julie Burchill caused controversy by writing a comment piece in The Observer referring to trans people as ‘shemales’, ‘shims’ and ‘bedwetters in bad wigs’.

Observer editor John Mulholland decided to withdraw the piece from the website, saying he had made an error in judgment. It later appeared in full in The Telegraph.

Speaking to Gay Star News, a Met police spokesman said: ‘We received a number of allegations in regards to an article published in January 2013.

‘The matter was investigated, and has now been closed.’

Jennie Kermode, the Chair of Trans Media Watch, said she was not surprised by the MET’s decision.

Speaking to Gay Star News, she said: ‘Although many people feel strongly that hate speech in a newspaper should be treated the same way it is when it happens in the street, existing laws make it very difficult for that to happen.

‘We welcome the fact that the law in this area is under review and at the request of the Law Commission we have contributed evidence which we hope will make a different.

‘What we really want, though, is to see people think more carefully before they write or publish this sort of material, not because of what the law might say but simply out of respect for others.

‘We don’t think it’s that hard to understand the difference between critiquing ideas – which everybody should be free to do – and attacking or ridiculing people at a personal level.’

After the article was published, former Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone called for freelance writer Burchill to be sacked.

‘Julie Burchill rant against transgender community is absolutely disgusting – a bigoted vomit for which the Observer should sack her,’ she said.

The Press Complaints Commission said Burchill did not breach rules on discrimination as she did not single out any individuals, but referred to ‘transgender people generally’.