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Book festival cancels Harry Potter segment, citing J.K. Rowling’s comments on gender

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A Harry Potter-themed event at a New Zealand book festival has been canceled over author J.K. Rowling’s controversial comments on gender.

Organizers of Featherston’s Booktown Karukatea eliminated a quiz about the popular young adult series after Rowling tweeted a series of opinions that some called transphobic, according to Stuff.

The best-selling British author was swiftly met with backlash by many in the LGBTQ community, and some stars of the Harry Potter films.

The controversy started when Rowling panned an article for using the term “people who menstruate” instead of “women” last year.

“If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased,” she tweeted.

Organizers said they consulted with literary experts and LGBTQ community members before shelving the popular segment, according to the article.

“The overwhelming response was there was a risk around causing distress to particular members of the community and that was the last thing we wanted to do,” festival board chairman Peter Biggs said.

“We always thought Booktown should be an inclusive, welcoming place for everyone, so we took the decision not to go with Harry Potter.”

J.K. Rowling came under fire after tweeting several seemingly transphobic opinions that were widely criticized.
J.K. Rowling came under fire after tweeting several seemingly transphobic opinions that were widely criticized.

Some local gay advocates told the outlet they agreed.

“I think it’s a strong decision that shows they’re really trying to be an inclusive community and support their rainbow and transgender young people,” Tabby Besley,​ of Inside Out charity, reportedly said.

The May 6 book festival is set to examine “cancel culture,” which one local feminist activist said was ironic, according to the outlet.

“I think they might be trying to capitalize on the current fad of cancel culture,” Jenny Whyte said, according to Stuff.

“Featherston Booktown has a session selling tickets to a panel discussing cancel culture, so there’s an irony certainly.”

Whyte, who identifies as a lesbian, told the outlet she does not think Rowling’s comments were transphobic.

“It’s really funny that all the way from the UK where a world-famous writer has gotten into trouble for expressing quite compassionate and reasonable views, all the way down to tiny little Featherston. It encapsulates the whole madness of it quite well,” she reportedly said.

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