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JK Rowling’s publishing house stands by her ‘freedom’ to be anti-trans, won’t let staff boycott her new children’s book

Lily Wakefield June 17, 2020
Hachette JK Rowling in conversation

JK Rowling. (Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

Staff at publishing house Hachette UK may not be allowed to refuse to work on the new JK Rowling children’s book The Ickabog if they disagree with her anti-trans beliefs.

The Daily Mail reported this week that staff were threatening to down tools over the author’s anti-trans views.

A source at Hachette told the newspaper: “Staff in the children’s department at Hachette announced they were no longer prepared to work on the book.

“They said they were opposed to her comments and wanted to show support for the trans lobby.”

Another source added: “It was a handful of staff, and they are entitled to their views.

“If they were being asked to edit a book on domestic abuse, and they were a survivor of domestic abuse, of course they would never be forced to work on it.

“But this is a children’s fairy tale. It is not the end of the world. They will all be having chats with their managers.”

Publishing house Hachette backed JK Rowling and her ‘freedom of speech’.

Now, Hachette has responded to the reports in a statement, and said it stands by JK Rowling’s “freedom of speech”.

The publishing house told The Book Seller: “Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of publishing. We fundamentally believe that everyone has the right to express their own thoughts and beliefs.

“That’s why we never comment on our authors’ personal views and we respect our employees’ right to hold a different view.

“We will never make our employees work on a book whose content they find upsetting for personal reasons, but we draw a distinction between that and refusing to work on a book because they disagree with an author’s views outside their writing, which runs contrary to our belief in free speech.”

Ironically, the CEO of Hachette UK, David Shelley, is a member of the LGBT+ community, and he founded the publisher’s diversity initiative “Changing the Story”. 

Earlier this year, Hachette staff in the US staged a walkout over the publishing group’s acquisition of Woody Allen’s memoir. Hachette later cancelled the book’s publication.

PinkNews has contacted Hachette for comment.

More: anti-trans, hachette, JK Rowling, the ickabog, transphobia

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