SNP MP says she was 'no-platformed' as staff refuse to work event

Joanna Cherry claimed she was 'cancelled for gender-critical views' after staff at the Stand Comedy Club were 'unwilling' to work at the event.

Joanna Cherry says she was ‘no-platformed’ after venue scrap Fringe event at The Stand Comedy Club STV News

Joanna Cherry claims she has been “cancelled” after an Edinburgh venue scrapped plans for an event she was due to attend amid concerns from staff.

The SNP MP was due to speak at the event entitled In Conversation With Joanna Cherry as part of the Edinburgh Fringe programme in August.

However, The Stand Comedy Club, where the event was due to be hosted, struggled to secure enough staff and confirmed a number of venue management and box office personnel were “unwilling” to provide availability for the shift.

Cherry claimed on Tuesday she had been “no-platformed because I’m a lesbian, who holds gender-critical views”.

It comes as Cherry has been criticised for her views on what she has called “sex-based rights” with some branding the MP “transphobic”.

She has been an outspoken critic of the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

The Fringe show was originally scheduled as part of a series of interviews with political and arts guests including film director Ken Loach, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

The Stand, which was co-founded by SNP MP Tommy Sheppard, said it did not endorse the views of any participant in the series, which was organised by independent producer Fair Pley.

After concerns were raised by members of the public about Cherry’s involvement in the series, the venue stated on April 13: “Whilst we may disagree with a particular viewpoint, we believe that people should have the right to express views that others might find controversial or strongly disagree with, providing this is done within the law and does not violate our code of conduct.

“Some of our staff have expressed their concerns about Ms Cherry’s views and said that they do not wish to be involved in promoting or staging this show – we will ensure that their views are respected.”

The venue later confirmed on Monday that there were not enough staff willing to allow the event to go forward.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime programme, Cherry responded and stated: “I would hope The Stand would see sense here. Staff shouldn’t be framing editorial and artistic policy.

“I’m being cancelled and no-platformed because I’m a lesbian, who holds gender-critical views that somebody’s sex is immutable.

“I’ve made those views clear over a number of years. I have never said that trans people should not have equal rights.”

Cherry continued: “Because a small number of people don’t like my feminist and lesbian activism, I’m being prevented from talking about all of those things in my home city where I’m an elected politician.

“I think it says something’s gone very wrong in Scotland’s civic space.

“Small groups of activists are now dictating who can speak and what can be discussed.”

In a statement the venue confirmed the event would be cancelled as a result of a lack of staff necessary to accommodate the talk.

A statement said: “Further to our previous policy statement on this matter, following extensive discussions with our 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.

“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.

“We advised the show producers, Fair Pley Productions, of this operational issue and they advised Joanna Cherry that it is no longer possible to host the event in our venue.”

Author JK Rowling, who has also faced criticism for her views on trans rights, supported Cherry.

She said: “Jo Cherry’s completely right about modern McCarthyism. One of the most depressing things in this whole mess has been finding out how many people I formerly admired would have named names in a heartbeat.”

Cherry has been supported by the Scottish Conservatives in the incident, with MSP Rachael Hamilton stating the Tommy Sheppard-owned venue demonstrated the “toxic civil war” within the SNP.

She added: “The Stand has happily given a platform to extremist politicians with abhorrent views, such as Jeremy Corbyn, yet, inexplicably, is refusing to let Joanna Cherry voice her fears that this reckless bill [the Gender Recognition Reform Bill] threatens the safety of women and girls.

“Whatever views people have on this sensitive issue, it cannot be acceptable to shut down free speech.”

However, others have supported The Stand including Unite Hospitality union who said: “We are pleased that @StandComedyClub have listened to the legitimate and serious concerns of our members, their workers and acted accordingly.”

Tommy Sheppard has been contacted by STV News for comment.

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