Saturday, 3 Jun 2023

Staff were unwilling to work over her gender self-identification views

Woke comedy club suffers humiliating climbdown and confirms it will now host SNP MP Joanna Cherry’s show after previously cancelling it to due to her views on trans issues

  • The Stand backed down and apologised to SNP MP Joanna Cheery 
  • She is a vocal critic of the Scottish Government’s gender recognition reforms 
  • READ MORE: Children as young as 12 can consent to puberty blockers 

A woke comedy club had suffered a humiliating climbdown after it confirmed it will host SNP MP Joanna Cherry’s show after they previously cancelled it due to her views on trans issues.

The Stand Comedy Club previously said it would not host the ‘In Conversation With…’ interview with the MP because some of its staff were unwilling to work over her views on gender self-identification.

Ms Cherry, who represents Edinburgh South West,  threatened to take the club to court unless it backed down, and on Friday it admitted the cancellation had been ‘unfair and constituted unlawful discrimination’ against her.

She has been a vocal critic of the Scottish Government’s gender recognition reforms, which make it easier for people to change their legally-recognised sex.

The club had said ‘key operational staff’ had raised concerns about the MP’s views and made clear they did not want to work at the event, which is part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer.

SNP MP Joanna Cherry has been a vocal critic of the Scottish Government’s gender recognition reforms

The Stand Comedy Club previously said it would not host the ‘In Conversation With…’ interview with the MP because some of its staff were unwilling to work over her views

Ms Cherry said she would sue if the club did not go ahead with the event, vowing to ‘take whatever legal action is necessary to vindicate my right to not be misrepresented and not to be discriminated against’.

Ms Cherry, who was removed from the SNP frontbench in 2021, told BBC Radio Scotland: ‘It’s a very welcome move by The Stand and I accept their apology and I’m looking forward to taking a part in the event.

‘I didn’t want to have to take legal action here, and this was never about money, but what my hope is that the fact that The Stand have fully and frankly accepted that cancelling the event on account of my philosophical views as a lesbian and a feminist was unlawful, I really hope that’s going to benefit other woman, and indeed men, by discouraging other people from discriminating against people like me who fully support equal rights for trans people but don’t believe that any man should be able to self identify as a woman.

‘And I really hope that the detailed legal opinion I got on this issue, which remains published on my website, will be of benefit to other people in the future and will prevent other organisations from undertaking this kind of unlawful discrimination.’

A spokesman for the club previously said it thought the event would be ‘be impossible to stage because a number of staff had expressed an unwillingness to work on the day it was due to take place, citing their personal discomfort with some of Joanna Cherry’s views’.

Making its apology, it said it had ‘sent a detailed response to Ms Cherry and her legal team and have spoken to the event’s promoters to confirm that we will be able to host the event as originally planned’.

A Strand spokesman said: ‘We have always been clear that we oppose all forms of discrimination and recognise the rights of individuals to air views with which we may disagree.

‘We hope that this apology draws a line under this episode and allows The Stand to get back to doing what it does best.’

The club in Edinburgh, which was co-founded by SNP MP Tommy Sheppard, said it had taken its own legal advice before making its apology.

The debate of trans rights has become one of the most divisive in Scottish politics in recent years, involving a number of high-profile figures including Scottish author JK Rowling and ex-Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies who have both called for the proposed bill to be reconsidered.

Last week Harry Potter author JK Rowling showed her support for Ms Cherry after her event was cancelled. Pictured: Ms Cherry and JK Rowling together 

Last week the Harry Potter writer showed her support for Ms Cherry, who is a lawyer and lesbian activist, after the event cancelled one of its ‘In Conversation with …’ events with the feminist politician.

She said her treatment was ‘like a new form of McCarthyism’ – the US phenomenon in the 1950s when unsubstantiated allegations were made about people suspected of being communists.

‘This is like a new form of McCarthyism where any lesbian or feminist who doesn’t subscribe to gender identity ideology is losing the ability to have a public platform and, in some cases, losing their ability to earn a living,’ she said.

Last week, she said she felt she had been ‘cancelled and no-platformed’ because she was a lesbian who holds gender-critical views. 

But she said was ‘greatly heartened’ by the support she had received. 

Ms Cherry continued while speaking to the think tank: ‘I might not always be an MP, if I was to lose my seat next year there are various career opportunities that might be closed down to me if I don’t challenge this discrimination and this attack on my reputation.’

However, she also stressed she was taking action ‘for other women because I have come across many women in the course of work who find themselves not being no-platformed, but losing their jobs, or their means to earn a livelihood’.

The MP stated: ‘Lots of these women are out of the public eye and aren’t necessarily in the position I am in to take this forward.’

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