John Cleese has been accused of transphobia after he tweeted in support of JK Rowling, telling his followers he was “not that interested” in transgender rights.
Mr Cleese, 81, tweeted his support for Ms Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter series, after signing a letter arguing the author was not a transphobe.
“I’m afraid I’m not that interested in trans folks,” he admitted when pressed to “be upfront” about his views on Rowling’s controversy.
“I just hope they’re happy and that people treat them kindly,” he wrote.
Mr Cleese argued that “threats to democracy in America, the rampant corruption in the UK” and “the appalling British press” were bigger issues than trans rights.
He complained that critics showed a “complete lack of perspective” as well as a “complete lack of a sense of humour”.
It's the complete lack of perspective that bothers me
Of course, that goes with a complete lack of a sense of humour
Heard a woke joke yet ? https://t.co/97Au5WjuGT
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) November 22, 2020
“Deep down, I want to be a Cambodian police woman. Is that allowed, or am I being unrealistic?” he replied to someone who asked why he couldn’t “just let people be who they want to be.”
Lilah Sturges, a transgender author, said Mr Cleese was “transphobic in a way that attempts and fails to be funny.”
“This is an ex-comedian,” she wrote.
The row follows a series of disputes between JK Rowling and trans rights campaigners.
The author denies accusations of transphobia. She wrote: “I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans.”