JK Rowling has backed a former Scottish Government minister who quit her role over proposed reforms to gender recognition.

The Harry Potter author, whose views on sex and gender have provoked criticism in recent years, praised Ash Regan after she quit as community safety minister before a Scottish Parliament vote on the new legislation.

The legislation passed the first stage at Holyrood, with 88 votes for yes, 33 for no and four abstentions.

The bill seeks to remove the medical requirement and panel process for those requiring a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), and asks applicants to live in their acquired gender for three months rather than two years.

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Many trans people argue the process is simply an “admin issue”, with the journey to being recognised officially lengthy and expensive at present.

But Rowling argues that trans activists want to “erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class”, and generally opposes changing UK gender recognition laws. Her position on the trans community has been branded “cruel” and “inaccurate” by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

Speaking after resigning suddenly on Thursday, Regan argued that her “conscience” could not allow her to back the Government’s proposed gender law changes.

The Edinburgh Eastern MSP said in a statement: “I have today taken the difficult decision to resign from my position as minister for community safety as my conscience would not allow me to vote with the Government this evening. I have greatly valued my time in government and regret that I am not able to continue that work.

The National:

“I voted against the Gender Recognition Reform Bill at stage one as the issues of concern that I have held and raised for some time have not been addressed as yet.

“I am not against reform per se, however, I cannot support any legislation that may have negative implications for the safety and dignity of women and girls.

“I have long believed that principles in politics are important and that is the case especially when it is difficult.

“I will continue to support my constituents as their representative and continue to make the strong case for Scottish independence.”

In response to Regan’s move, Rowling shared an image of the MSP accompanied by 10 clapping emojis.

The writer is yet to speak publicly on the successful first-stage passing of the bill in the Scottish Parliament.

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She had written a column for the Times ahead of the debate, titled “Sturgeon is deaf to women’s concerns over gender ID” – winning her support from Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross.

Regan was one of seven MSPs to break with the whip and vote against the bill. The others were Stephanie Callaghan, Fergus Ewing, Kenneth Gibson, Ruth Maguire, John Mason and Michelle Thomson.

Two others – Annabelle Ewing and Jim Fairlie – abstained.