Edinburgh Fringe comedy club threatened after gender-critical MP 'cancelled'

Joanna Cherry is threatening to sue a comedy club that cancelled a show because of her views on trans rights.

The SNP MP for Edinburgh South West was due to be interviewed as part of a series of In Conversation events at the Edinburgh Festival, but staff at The Stand raised refused to work on the event.

Ms Cherry has been a vocal critic of the Scottish Government’s gender recognition reforms, which makes it easier for people to change their legal gender. Ms Cherry said the reforms have "a big dose of misogyny" and "could impact the rights of women".

She has denied accusations of transphobia.

A spokesperson for The Stand, which is part-funded by SNP MP Tommy Sheppard, said: “Following extensive discussions with our staff it has become clear that a number of our key operational staff, including management and box office personnel, are unwilling to work on this event.

“We will ensure that their views are respected. We will not compel our staff to work on this event and so have concluded that the event is unable to proceed on a properly staffed, safe and legally compliant basis.”

Ms Cherry said she will commence legal proceedings unless The Stand apologises and reinstates the event, adding the threat of legal action was based on principle rather than money.

“I am prepared to take whatever legal action is necessary to vindicate my right to not be misrepresented and not to be discriminated against,” she said.

“My primary goal is to have the actions of The Stand acknowledged as unlawful and to ensure the event proceeds. I have asked The Stand to apologise to me too. If they don’t agree with my reasonable requests, I intend to ask the court to decide on the issue.

“I hope that my actions in defending myself will give courage to everyone particularly women who wish to express views on legitimate issues of public interest.

“That, after all, is the very job of a politician and one of the reasons I entered politics in the first place.”

Ms Cherry, a King’s Counsel, said she had been “greatly heartened" by support and the opinion of human-rights barrister Aidan O’Neill who believes The Stand acted unlawfully.

“The actions of The Stand and all that has followed thereon, are symptomatic of a wider problem in our society," she said. "I am very concerned that those who hold perfectly legitimate views on a variety of issues, including women like me, are regularly being misrepresented, de-platformed and, in some cases, facing damage to or the loss of our livelihoods.

“This is often accompanied by online abuse and threats. The debate on gender self-identification is a very important one which must be allowed to take place, but I am a woman of many parts who was engaged to talk about my political life in general and I see the cancelling of my one-hour event as the thin end of the wedge.”

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