'Should venues be allowed to no-platform people if they spread hate?'

By Freda Wallace, host of the Gender Nebulous podcast

Drama has once again struck the Edinburgh Fringe with the announcement that Graham Linehan’s surprise debut has been cancelled.

This follows Joanna Cherry forcing venue The Stand to platform her, then complaining when staff apparently protested during the show.

Leith Arches, the venue booked for Comedy Unleashed due to feature Linehan, have released a statement saying his views were antithetical to their beliefs of inclusivity and they would not host him.

It is worth noting that Linehan's appearance was only announced on Monday 14th August, meaning his participation was unknown to the venue until then.

The venue hosts drag events, including drag king events during this year's Fringe, so it is reasonable they would feel uncomfortable hosting Linehan.

This brings up the issue of censorship. Is a venue allowed to cancel an event because they disagree with a participant's stance? Cherry and her battle with The Strand would suggest not.

And people will be quick to bring up Maya Forstater, who won a claim for unfair discrimination after losing her job for tweeting that transgender women could not change their biological sex.

But why should a private business be required to platform individuals?

The Forstater ruling made it clear that bigotry is a protected belief, but that implementing it or trying to force it on others is not protected.

Graham Linehan is considering taking legal action against Edinburgh venue The Stand

Surely this means a venue should be allowed to decide not to platform someone if they are worried said person will be spreading hate.

Not only is this logical on a moral level, it also protects the venue from legal backlash for hosting openly-bigoted performers.

It is also very pertinent to note that the venue was not informed of Linehan’s participation. They were made aware of it after the announcement was made on Monday.

This begs the question whether it is legal for someone to rent a venue for one purpose and then suddenly change the line up close to the event without informing the venue?

Why are private venues legally required to compromise their own personal beliefs to pander to people who are clearly at odds with their ethics?

This is an issue that needs further discussion. At what point does one person's freedom to denigrate a minority publicly in the name of ‘comedy’ outrank the venue's ability to protect themselves from backlash to hosting them?

Especially if they actively do not want to host them, and were not informed they would be hosting them?

Should venues be forced into hosting events? And if so, how does that not violate their personal freedoms?

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