Book distrust

The net tightens.

Writers in Scotland have warned that a code of conduct imposed by a national book charity threatens to infringe on the free speech of authors and poets who disagree with “gender identity theory”.

The Scottish Book Trust sent the code to 600 writers on its Live Literature register, advising that they must sign up in order to keep their listing. Inclusion on the register is essential for writers, poets and spoken-word artists who want to earn a living from public events in schools and libraries.

It’s a new version of the code, and it includes the threat that the trust “will not tolerate bigotry and transphobia.” Since the censorious word “transphobia” can mean simply saying men are not women, the Scottish Book Trust is basically excluding women for the sake of men who call themselves women.

The trust is a national charity whose mission is to promote literature, reading and writing. Its income for 2020-21 was £4.8 million, 86 per cent of which came from the Scottish government. Critics of the trust fear it is toeing the government line.

The row comes as the SNP-Green reform of the Gender Recognition Act makes its way through parliament. Supporters say it will simplify the process of gender recognition but opponents say it “rides roughshod over the rights of women and girls”.

It has become all too clear that you can’t “simplify the process of gender recognition” without destroying the rights of women and girls.

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