Joanna Cherry Edinburgh Fringe event cancelled amid ‘concerns’ from ‘uncomfortable’ venue staff

MSP Joanna Cherry

A discussion event at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival featuring ‘gender critical’ MP Joanna Cherry has been cancelled, after staff allegedly aired concerns about working with Cherry. 

The Scottish National Party (SNP) MP was set to take part in an ‘In conversation with …’ event at The Stand’s New Town Theatre on August 10, as part of the world famous arts and culture festival. 

Hosted by Glasgow-based arts production company Fair Pley, other ‘In conversation with …’ shows set to take place during the festival include talks with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and musician Bobby Bluebell. 

Cherry’s show has now been cancelled and its description page on the Fringe website is no longer active

The Times reported that staff at the venue expressed concerns about working with Cherry, with officials at The Strand reportedly scrapping the show because staff concerns could not be eased. 

“It has become clear that a number of The Stand’s key operational staff, including venue management and box office personnel, are unwilling to work on this event,” said a spokesperson for the venue, in a statement.

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“As we have previously stated, 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.”

In a statement given to PinkNews, a spokesperson for the Edinburgh Fringe said: “The Fringe is an open access festival, which means the Fringe Society does not have any involvement in deciding which shows do or do not appear at the festival; this is handled independently by venues and artists.”

Writing on Twitter on Sunday, (30 April), Joanna Cherry said: “It should not be possible for venues or their staff to no-platform lesbians and feminists like me who believe that sex is an immutable biological fact.”

“Such discrimination is unlawful as well as unacceptable. This needs widely called out.” 

During her time as an MP, Cherry’s track record on trans and wider LGBTQ+ issues has been controversial and often at odds with the stance of the wider SNP. 

She has repeatedly spoken out against Scotland’s gender reform law, as well as wider legislation aimed at improving trans rights. 

In March, she retweeted a claim that the now-elected leader of the SNP Humza Yousaf wanted to sterilise transgender and autistic children

A spokesperson for Joanna Cherry, however, told PinkNews that the retweet was made in error when the MSP was attempting to engage with the original post, although LGBTQ+ activists were unconvinced by the explanation. 

Prior to this, the former Scottish front bencher also courted controversy for suggesting trans conversion therapy should remain legal

In November 2021, she tweeted: “Re: conversion therapy, which any right thinking person should oppose, we must not make it a criminal offence for therapists to try to help patients with gender dysphoria to feel comfortable in their birth sex.

“As we used to say #SomePeopleAreGay. #GetOverIt.”

In response to the tweet, several SNP councillors and MPs called for the party to investigate Cherry. 

At the time, activist and SNP staffer Richy Edwards, a survivor of conversion therapy, noted that Cherry’s comments were made at the start of Trans Awareness Week.

Edwards said: “There will never be enough characters / long enough threads to do justice to the very real and painful experience of being subjected to this abuse.

“If you have been fortunate enough to not go through said practices, I would urge you to listen – really listen – to those who have.”

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