Christian MSP Kate Forbes backs Graham Linehan over cancelled Edinburgh gig

Composite image showing MSP Kate Forbes and comedy writer Graham Linehan

Kate Forbes has said anti-trans activist Graham Linehan “needs to be protected” after he was dropped from a comedy gig due to his views and social media activity.

The Father Ted creator, who has been involved in anti-trans campaigning for more than five years, was scheduled to perform at a show at Leith Arches as a “famous cancelled comedian” during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. He was due to join GB News host Andrew Doyle as a special guest during a performance.

However, when the organisers announced that this would be Linehan, the “inclusive” venue said they were no longer willing to host the event, and wouldn’t let the comedian “violate” their space

Christian MSP Forbes, who has previously been criticised for saying she wouldn’t have voted to legalise same-sex marriage had she been in the Scottish parliament at the time, defended the online activist, claiming comedy needs to be “protected”.

Speaking at the Edinburgh Fringe with comedian Matt Forde, Forbes said: “People pick a target and go after that target and they’re not content until they are destroyed. It is a really scary time to be a comedian because your shows, your art, relies, in part, on causing offence. And some of it I find quite offensive.”

A former candidate for first minister, Forbes, who has also been criticised for her views on abortion and trans rights, added: “Offence needs to be caused and he is a comedian. He’s not inciting violence as far as I can see. He is a comedian making jokes with the currency of offence and that needs to be protected.”

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Linehan eventually performed on the pavement outside the Scottish Parliament, in front of a small audience of journalists and supporters.

Graham Linehan performs to small crowd on street
Graham Linehand performs to a small crowd outside Holyrood, Edinburgh. (Credit: Twitter)

Linehan, who also wrote The IT Crowd, first became involved in anti-trans activism when a portrayal of a trans woman in repeat of a 2008 episode of the show was criticised as “transphobic”.

The comic writer has since compared gender-affirming care for trans children to Nazi experiments in concentration camps. 

In 2018, he was given a warning for verbal harassment by police, after disseminating information on Twitter about a trans woman, including her home address.

In 2021, Graham Linehan joined the queer dating app Her, setting up a fake profile, pretending to be a trans woman and sharing profiles of other users on the app. He was kicked off the platform, with its founders stating it’s for “all women, including the trans community”. 

After the cancellation of his Fringe appearance, Linehan was backed by Scottish National Party MP Joanna Cherry, who describes herself as “gender-critical”, and Labour’s Rosie Duffield, who has been criticised for calling trans women “male-bodied”

Linehan himself responded to the cancellation, writing on X, formerly known as Twitter: “It sure sounds like discrimination on the grounds of my legally protected beliefs.”