World News

Writers defect from Society of Authors after freedom of speech row

Writers defect from Society of Authors to rival union after it was engulfed in freedom of speech row over claims it has not properly defended gender-critical authors from being ‘cancelled’

  • Members claimed union didn’t support figures like JK Rowling over ‘transphobia’
  • Rival Free Speech Union set up new provision for authors in light of gender row
  • FSU said they are providing an alternative for writers to ‘protect themselves’ 

Writers reportedly leave the Society of Authors for a rival union after the former was engulfed in a freedom of speech row over claims it has not properly defended gender-critical authors from being ‘cancelled’. 

As the UK’s largest writers’ union, the Society of Authors has upset members over claims it did not support figures like JK Rowling who have been accused of ‘transphobia’.

Authors who feared the union was ‘lost to cancel culture’ are already understood to be defecting to the rival Free Speech Union, which promised to ‘come to defence of beleaguered authors’. 

It has established a new provision specifically for authors, particularly those under pressure for rejecting the belief that self-identified gender takes precedence over biological sex.

As the UK’s largest writers’ union, the Society of Authors has upset members over claims it did not support figures like JK Rowling who have been accused of ‘transphobia’

The Free Speech Union, founded by Toby Young, announced: ‘It has become increasingly clear to us that freedom of expression is under severe pressure within the literary world, with publishers and literary agents often failing to defend their authors when their speech rights come under attack.’

‘The freedom of authors to express themselves and of people to read their work without interference or mediation by self-appointed censors is a fundamental human right.’ 

The Free Speech Union said they are providing an alternative to the Society of Authors that will allow authors ‘to protect themselves, to defend their peers or to build a public voice capable of putting the case for freedom of expression as robustly as possible’.

Joanne Harris, chairwoman at the Society of Authors, has recently been at the centre of controversy as members claimed that under her leadership the union has not spoken up for authors ‘cancelled’ for holding views critical of gender ideology , or condemned abuse faced by JK Rowling for her gender-critical position

They have appointed a Writers’ Advisory Council to oversee its offering for authors, with members including authors Helen Joyce, Julie Bindel, Anna Pasternak and Andrew Roberts, as well as comedians Andrew Doyle and Jack Dee.

The union said: ‘Our hope is that this will lend the FSU’s voice authority when it speaks out in defence of freedom of expression and comes to the aid of beleaguered authors.’

Joanne Harris, chairwoman at the Society of Authors, has recently been at the centre of controversy as members claimed that under her leadership the union has not spoken up for authors ‘cancelled’ for holding views critical of gender ideology, or condemned abuse faced by JK Rowling for her gender-critical position.

The Harry Potter author herself has claimed that the Society under Ms Harris’ leadership has ‘consistently failed’ to protect gender critical writers.

Source: Read Full Article