A British judge ruled Friday that a man who issued “gender critical” comments on Twitter is protected by free speech.
What are the details?
According toReuters, a British judge issued the ruling after a transgender woman complained to authorities that a man on social media made what she called “brazen transphobic comments.”
Former police officer Harry Miller allegedly shared 31 “gender critical” remarks between November 2018 and January 2019.
One such message included, “I was assigned mammal at birth, but my orientation is fish. Don’t mis-species me.”
The outlet also reported that he made remarks about Caitlyn Jenner — formerly known as Olympian Bruce Jenner.
The unnamed trans woman called authorities and filed a complaint. Upon investigation, authorities determined that Miller’s Twitter remarks were considered a “non-crime hate incident.”
Reuters reported that Humberside police paid a visit to Miller about the complaint, which Miller said “left him with the impression that continuing to tweet could cause Miller to face criminal prosecution.”
In response, Miller took legal action against the police, insisting that authorities tried to tamp down Miller’s freedom of speech.
What did the judge say?
Judge Julian Knowles at London’s High Court said that Miller’s remarks were lawful and protected by free speech.
“In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo, or a Stasi,” Knowles declared. “We have never lived in an Orwellian society.”
The claimants’ tweets were lawful and there was not the slightest risk that he would commit a criminal offense by continuing to tweet. I find the combination of the police visiting the claimant’s place of work, and their subsequent statements in relation to the possibility of prosecution, were a disproportionate interference with the claimant’s right to freedom of expression because of their potential chilling effect.
Miller said that he stands by his remarks and is not biased against transgender people.
“I want to raise awareness by stating that which used to be instinctively obvious — a biological man is a man, and a biological woman is a woman,” he insisted. “To claim otherwise is extraordinary.”
According tothe BBC, Miller added, “This is a watershed moment for liberty — the police were wrong to visit my workplace, wrong to ‘check my thinking.'”
Miller’s lawyer, Paul Conrathe, said, “It is a strong warning to local police forces not to interfere with people’s free speech rights on matters of significant controversy.”
In a statement, the Humberside Police said it acted in good faith.
“Our actions in handling the incident were carried out in good faith but we note the comments of the judge and we will take learning from this incident moving forward,” the statement read.
The police are still able toclassifythe remarks as “non-crime hate incident,” but Miller plans to appeal the decision. The BBC reported that the appeal has been granted and will go straight to the Supreme Court.