Joanna Cherry calls on government to condemn ‘violence’ by trans rights activists

Gender-critical MP Joanna Cherry has called on the UK government to investigate “the impact of extreme trans rights activism on women’s rights”. 

During questions in the Commons on Tuesday (21 November), the SNP MP called on Laura Farris, the under-secretary of state at the Home Office and ministry of justice, and a member of the justice select committee, to condemn “violence and intimidation” against women and launch a “rapid review” into trans rights activism and its impact on “women’s rights, including the rights of lesbians”. 

Her call came a day after the international Trans Day of Remembrance, which this year marked the deaths of 321 trans people across the globe over the past 12 months.

Cherry, herself a lesbian, cited a letter presented to prime minister Rishi Sunak by anti-trans campaign group Sex Matters last month, which asked him to “take urgent action to halt an escalating campaign of violence and intimidation against women in the name of trans rights”. 

The letter had received 15,000 signatures, with names including leading gender-critical activists Maya Forstater and Helen Joyce. 

“It details how women and, in particular, lesbians are being threatened with the loss of their livelihoods and with physical violence, shouted down and intimidated at public events, and sometimes even assaulted for insisting on their rights to freedom of belief and of expression, and for calling for sex-based protections to be upheld,” Cherry said. 

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Farris, whose work focuses on safeguarding, child protection and tackling violence against women and girls, condemned the actions Cherry described, adding: “Even though holding a gender-critical belief is protected in law, both under section 10 of the Equality Act 2010 and, more widely, under article nine of the European Convention on Human Rights, I am aware of the polarisation and, sometimes, intimidation that surrounds this debate.”

She went on to say she has seen the letter, and Cherry should “be in no doubt about how seriously this is viewed”.

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Farris concluded by saying she would like to meet with Cherry to discuss the rapid review further, as well as “any next steps”.

Joanna Cherry’s gender-critical beliefs

Cherry, the MP for Edinburgh South West, has long courted controversy for her gender-critical views, which are at odds with those of many of her SNP colleagues. 

In the summer, Cherry was embroiled in a freedom of speech battle with an Edinburgh venue after it cancelled an event at which she was due to appear – scheduled as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe – after staff expressed concerns over her inclusion.

The ‘In conversation with…” event was cancelled in May after staff said they were unwilling to work with Cherry and venue management stated they would “not compel our staff to work”.

Cherry threatened legal action against the venue and, after seeking legal advice itself, The Stand’s New Town Theatre apologised and reinstated the event.

Cherry has also been a vocal critic of Scotland’s gender law reforms, and wider pro-trans legislation, and previously suggested conversion therapy should remain legal in some cases.

In March, she retweeted claims that Humza Yousaf, who has since been elected as First Minister, wanted to sterilise transgender and autistic children. A spokesperson for Cherry told PinkNews this was a simple mistake made while attempting to engage with the original post, but her critics were unconvinced.

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