A British judge ruled Friday with a man who was reported to police by a transgender woman for his allegedly transphobic comments on Twitter.
Harry Miller, 31, posted “gender critical” tweets between November 2018 and January 2019, Reuters reports.
In one message, Miller wrote, “I was assigned mammal at birth, but my orientation is fish. Don’t mis-species me. In another, he said, “You know the worst thing about cancer? It’s transphobic.”
He also made references to the Olympic success of Caitlyn Jenner.
British court rules that police infringed man’s right to free expression when they showed up at his workplace to quiz him over his Twitter posts about transgender people. https://t.co/KvSbkAL49x
— ABC News (@ABC) February 14, 2020
The transgender woman, referred to as Mrs. B, reported Miller to police for “brazen transphobic comments.”
Miller, a former police officer himself, was visited by an officer at his workplace after they categorized the complaint as a “non-crime hate incident.” In a phone call between Miller and police later on, the officer left him with the impression that continuing to tweet could cause Miller to face criminal prosecution, according to Reuters. (RELATED: Record Number Of Children Identifying As Transgender In U.K.)
Miller took legal action against the local police, and Judge Julian Knowles at London’s High Court upheld his claim Friday, ruling the tweets were lawful and police had disproportionally interfered with Miller’s freedom of expression.
“In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi,” the judge said. “We have never lived in an Orwellian society.”
Although the judge upheld Miller’s claim on an individual basis, he rejected Miller’s complaint about the College of Policing’s wider guidance on hate crimes. The judge said it serves legitimate purposes.
Miller denied that he was prejudice against transgender people, instead describing his position as “gender-critical.”
“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. To claim otherwise is extraordinary,” he said in a statement to the court, according to Reuters.
A British mother was reportedly arrested in 2019 and incarcerated for referring to a transgendered woman as a man in online communication. Also around that time, a 74-year-old woman living in Suffolk, England, was questioned by police about her social media comments on transgender people.
The Crown Prosecution Service, the principal public agency conducting prosecutions in England and Wales, defines a hate crime as:
Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person’s disability or perceived disability; race or perceived race; or religion or perceived religion; or sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation or transgender identity or perceived transgender identity.
Since there is no legal definition of hostility, CPS explains that they use the “everyday understanding” of the word, which includes “ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike.”