Cherry says Fringe cancellation 'Stasi-like' amid call for support

The SNP MP claimed on Tuesday she had been 'no-platformed' for her gender-critical views.

Joanna Cherry has called for political leaders to support her “right to free speech” after claiming she had been “cancelled” by an Edinburgh comedy club.

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

However, The Stand – 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 [she is] a lesbian, who holds gender-critical views”.

Speaking to STV News, she said: “This is an affront to free speech, and it’s also discriminatory.

“Lesbian feminists and women such as myself are being prevented from speaking in public about our views. 

“This is the kind of thing that went on in East Germany under the Stasi. I don’t expect it in a democratic country like Scotland, particularly not in Edinburgh, the home of the Enlightenment, and also in my case at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which is supposed to be a venue for all, and eclectic and accommodating all sorts of different artistic freedoms.”

Cherry, who has been an outspoken critic of the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, has been criticised for her views on what she has called “sex-based rights” with some branding the MP “transphobic”.

The 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, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

In a statement, The Stand, which was co-founded by SNP MP Tommy Sheppard, said it did not endorse the views of any participant in the shows, which are 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.”

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

Cherry told STV News that she wished that politicians in leading roles “would have the courage to speak out against this sort of thing”.

She said: “I hope that people in leading roles other than Kate Forbes in my party will speak out against it, and I also hope that the leader of the Scottish Labour party Anas Sarwar, whos down to be one of the other events on their In Conversation With… session at The Stand might speak out against it as well.

“I know that lots of people in political life think what’s happening to me is wrong, and what’s happened to other women, they just need to have the courage to say it.”

Scottish Labour has been contacted for comment.

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