So-called ‘gender critical’ MP Joanna Cherry elected chair of human rights committee

SNP MP Joanna Cherry

The “gender critical” SNP MP Joanna Cherry has been elected as the new chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

The committee, which includes 12 members from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, is responsible for “examining matters relating to human rights within the United Kingdom”, including scrutinising all government bills to ensure they are compatible with the country’s human rights obligations.

Cherry, who was previously deputy chair of the joint committee, will take the place of Labour MP Harriet Harman.

Activists and political figures are fearful of what Cherry’s anti-trans history could mean for the direction of the committee.

Cherry, who was first elected as an MP in 2015, was sacked from her party’s Westminster front bench last year in a reshuffle, shortly after she engaged in a Twitter spat with the SNP’s official LGBTQ+ wing.

The MP for Edinburgh South West has consistently opposed trans rights reforms.

A fan of anti-trans lobby group LGB Alliance and a pal of JK Rowling’s, Joanna Cherry has fought hard against the reform of gender recognition laws in Scotland, and has publicly declared it should be legal to subject trans people to conversion therapy.

Cherry has also vehemently supported the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) through a series a scandals, with the commission seeing an exodus of staff alleging that it has become “transphobic” and “the enemy of human rights”, and with leaks revealing how the equalities watchdog met with anti-trans lobby groups.

Stephen Whittle OBE, legal scholar and activist with the trans rights group Press for Change, asked if the appointment was “a joke”.

He said: “Joanna Cherry picks and chooses who should have rights, repeatedly making clear her antagonism to trans people’s privacy rights as clarified by the European Courts.

“This is an incalculable loss to justice and parliament’s role in protecting the UK’s minorities.”

Joe McCauley, culture spokesperson for the Scottish Lib Dems, tweeted: “Awful to see this move!

“Trans rights are at risk and it’s representatives like Joanna Cherry MP who [have] controlled a dangerous narrative.”

Helen Belcher, chair of trans community group TransActual, told PinkNews it was “worrying and deeply ironic” to see a politician opposed to trans inclusion with such influence over the direction of human rights in the UK.

“Ironic, because public positions she has taken on issues relating to trans people suggest that her commitment to human rights can be best described as ‘not all minorities’,” she said.

“In the end, everyone – including highly privileged politicians – need to remember that trans people are people, too.”

Hitting back at critics of her appointment, Joanna Cherry told PinkNews in a statement: “The allegation that I oppose expanding trans rights is without foundation. Human rights are universal, and I support equal rights for all groups in our society including trans people.

“What I don’t support is the idea that anyone should be allowed to self-identify into the opposite sex without any gatekeeper because of the impact this could have on the rights of women and those attracted to the same sex.”