Joanna Cherry accepts comedy club’s apology for cancelling show

Joanna Cherry MP has accepted a comedy club’s apology for cancelling an Edinburgh Fringe show she was due to be in over her views on gender self-identification.

The Stand Comedy Club had said it would not host the In Conversation With interview event with the SNP MP because some of its staff were unwilling to work at it due to Ms Cherry’s gender critical views.

Ms Cherry, who represents Edinburgh South West, had threatened to take the club to court unless it backed down, and on Friday it admitted the cancellation had been “unfair and constituted unlawful discrimination” against her.

A club spokesman said: “We now publicly and unreservedly apologise to Ms Cherry.”

Joanna Cherry outside Scottish Parliament
Joanna Cherry’s interview event at The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh, will now go ahead after the venue backed down (Lesley Martin/PA)

The MP, a vocal critic of the Scottish Government’s gender recognition reforms, said it was a “very welcome move by The Stand and I accept their apology and I’m looking forward to taking a part in the event”.

Ms Cherry told BBC Radio Scotland she supported equal rights for trans people but did not support the view that “any man has the right to self-identify as a woman with minimal safeguards”.

She told the broadcaster’s Drivetime: “I didn’t want to have to take legal action here, and this was never about money, but what my hope is that the fact that The Stand have fully and frankly accepted that cancelling the event on account of my philosophical views as a lesbian and a feminist was unlawful, I really hope that’s going to benefit other woman, and indeed men, by discouraging other people from discriminating against people like me who fully support equal rights for trans people but don’t believe that any man should be able to self identify as a woman.

“And I really hope that the detailed legal opinion I got on this issue, which remains published on my website, will be of benefit to other people in the future and will prevent other organisations from undertaking this kind of unlawful discrimination.”

The club had invited her to appear at the August interview event earlier this year, but withdrew its invitation after it said “key operational staff” had raised concerns about the MP’s views and made clear they did not want to work at the event.

But Ms Cherry announced her intention to sue if the club did not go ahead with the event, vowing to “take whatever legal action is necessary to vindicate my right to not be misrepresented and not to be discriminated against”.

The Stand, which was co-founded by SNP MP Tommy Sheppard, said it had taken its own legal advice before making both the decision to cancel and before it made Friday’s apology to her.

A spokesman for the club previously said it thought the event would be “be impossible to stage because a number of staff had expressed an unwillingness to work on the day it was due to take place, citing their personal discomfort with some of Joanna Cherry’s views”.

Making its apology, it said it had “sent a detailed response to Ms Cherry and her legal team and have spoken to the event’s promoters to confirm that we will be able to host the event as originally planned”.

A spokesman said: “The Stand will donate our share of the profit from the event to one of our partner charities, Edinburgh Food Project.

“The management of the event will be discussed with staff in the coming weeks.

“We have always been clear that we oppose all forms of discrimination and recognise the rights of individuals to air views with which we may disagree.

“We hope that this apology draws a line under this episode and allows The Stand to get back to doing what it does best.”