SNP politician ‘regrets offence’ over dyke jokes at independence rally

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Lesbian MP Joanna Cherry  has said she “regrets” that people were offended by dyke jokes at an SNP-backed independence rally, less than 24 hours after dismissing criticism.

The comedy skit in question was performed by comedy troupe ‘Witserface’ at an independence rally, attended by some of the most senior SNP MPs.

It referred to out Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson as “Ruth Dykey-D”, leading senior Tories to call for an apology.

SNP politician Joanna Cherry had earlier today defended the “hilarious” comedy routine from criticism, telling critics to stop “mansplaining what homophobia is” to her as a lesbian “who’s been out for 30+ years”.

Tory MSP Annie Wells responded: “As an openly gay woman, it’s not something I have done. And I find it extremely offensive.”

In a letter to Ms Cherry, the Conservative politician asked her to “challenge homophobic behaviour in future rather than promote it”.

In her reply this evening, Ms Cherry said she “regretted” causing offence.

She explained: “I saw yesterday’s performance as a lesbian woman watching a satirical comedy sketch written by lesbian women and performed by lesbian women, which mocked representatives of all political parties, including the SNP. In that context I did not believe it was intended to be offensive but I do understand why some find it to be.”

“Language is important — particularly when we are all still working hard to change social attitudes towards LGBTI people.

“While some people, including myself, have reclaimed the term and now use it proudly — I understand others are not comfortable with it and while the event and performance were not organised by me or the SNP I regret the offence that was caused.”

She added: “As you know I am an openly gay woman myself and I have spent my life campaigning for LGBTI rights — often against governments and politicians that were determined to hold back our equality.

“I came out at a time when to do so risked damaging my career and I have myself been the victim of homophobic assaults — solos all too aware of the need to challenge homophobia whenever and wherever it arises.

“I am proud that the SNP has been one of the most progressive governments in the world on LGBTI equality – showing leadership in tackling prejudice and discrimination. providing record funding and support to LGBTI equality groups, and passing progressive laws on equal marriage, hate crime, and soon transgender equality, making Scotland the leading country in Europe on LGBTI rights ”

However, she took the opportunity to have a jibe at Ms Davidson for her own recent comedy routine.

In her apology, she noted: “I do not believe Ruth Davidson MSP’s recent comments about the openly gay politician Angela Eagle MP being a ‘short-haired, flat shoes, shovel-faced lesbian’ were meant to be offensive but some may have taken it that way.”

Ms Davidson had made the comment in question during a comedy routine earlier this year, when she found out she was set to team up with Ms Eagle for an EU referendum debate.

The Scottish Tory leader said: “I’d had a phone call from [Conservative comms chief] Craig Oliver saying we want you to do the Wembley debate, Labour are putting up Angela Eagle.

“I said, that is great Craig but are you absolutely sure you want two short-haired, flat shoes, shovel-faced lesbians with a northern accent?

“I think he’d never been spoken to like that before as he turned into Hugh Grant, and then we got Sadiq instead.”