So-called ‘gender critical’ MP Joanna Cherry threatens legal action over cancelled Edinburgh Fringe show

MP Joanna Cherry

MP Joanna Cherry has threatened to take legal action against a venue that cancelled a show she was to appear in, after staff expressed concerns about her views on trans issues. 

The Scottish National Party (SNP) politician was set to take part in an “In conversation with…” event at The Stand’s New Town Theatre on 10 August, as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 

However, at the beginning of May it was revealed the event had been cancelled and its description page on the Fringe website became inactive

It was widely reported that staff expressed concerns over working with Cherry, due to her views on trans rights, and the venue said in a statement it could not compel them to work, so was forced to scrap the show. 

In response, the “gender critical” MP has demanded the venue issue an apology, admit it acted unlawfully and reinstate the event, or she will take legal action for discrimination. 

Since the cancellation, Joanna Cherry has spoken widely across the media – including to The Times, The Daily Telegraph and BBC Scotland – about being “silenced” and “no-platformed” because she is a “lesbian who holds gender-critical views that somebody’s sex is immutable”. 

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In a statement released on Twitter, the Edinburgh South West MP said: “I am prepared to take whatever legal action is necessary to vindicate my right not to be misrepresented and not to be discriminated against. 

“This is not about money. 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.”

She added that she hopes her actions will “give courage to everyone” who wishes to express their views on “legitimate issues of public interest”. 

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

At the time of the cancellation, the venue released a statement saying the show could not safely go ahead without staff.

“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,” it said. 

“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 arts festival 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. This is handled independently by venues and artists.”

Joanna Cherry is well-known for her controversial views on trans issues, which are often at odds with the wider SNP. The former shadow home secretary spoke against Scotland’s landmark gender law reforms and, in March “accidentally” retweeted claims that Humza Yousaf, who has since been elected as First Minister, wanted to sterilise transgender and autistic children.