The SNP MP claimed her chances of leading the party were ‘ruined’ by speaking out on transgender issues
By Lucy Ashton
Joanna Cherry has claimed that she was warned that speaking out on trans issues would “ruin” her chances of becoming the SNP leader, according to an STV News report.
The high-profile politician, who has been an outspoken critic of the Scottish Government’s gender recognition reforms, was speaking during an online event held by the think tank Reform Scotland on no-platforming versus freedom of speech.
Cherry, who was joined at the event by former SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes, also said she had to “challenge discrimination” after The Stand Comedy Club cancelled a show she was due to speak at.
Upon receiving legal advice, the Edinburgh South West MP has claimed the venue has acted “unlawfully”, and has asked for an apology.
She revealed on Monday that she will take “whatever legal action necessary” against the comedy club unless the event is reinstated.
Cherry insisted it was “important” she continued to speak out in the debate on trans rights despite claiming she had been warned in 2019 by her political adviser that speaking out about on the issues “would damage my political career and ruin any chance I would ever have of putting myself forward for the SNP leadership”.
Speaking during the Reform Scotland event, Ms Cherry said: “I first stuck my head above the parapet on this issue in May 2019 and Fraser (Thompson), my fantastic political adviser, warned me that when I did so it would probably damage my political career and ruin any chance I would ever have of putting myself forward for the SNP leadership. I didn’t believe him, but I think he was right, actually.
“I’ve found it absolutely appalling, the onslaught on the views of me and other feminists and lesbians like me over the last few years. But I think it’s really important for me as a politician to speak out.
“It is really important for people like me in public life to take a stand against, not just no platforming and an attack on free speech, but fundamentally discriminatory action against lesbians and feminists who don’t accept gender identity ideology.”
The MP, who was removed from the SNP front benches in 2021, was due to speak at an event at The Stand Comedy Club entitled ‘In Conversation With Joanna Cherry’ as part of the Edinburgh Fringe programme in August.
However, the venue struggled to secure enough staff and confirmed a number of venue management and box office personnel were “unwilling” to provide availability for the shift.
Referencing the potential legal proceedings, Cherry said she was prepared to take action “partly for myself”, adding that she had to challenge comments that were “very damaging to my reputation”.
She added: “Unless The Stand acknowledge their unlawful discrimination, apologise to me, and reinstate the event, then I will take them to court.
“Because I think it is really important that we have a clear statement in Scotland, in a case that has some publicity, that discriminating against women, and indeed men, like me who hold these beliefs is unlawful.”
“If people in public life, in positions of leadership, like university principals, employers in the public sphere, political leaders, were prepared to take a stand on this, then perhaps I wouldn’t find myself in this position.
“But the political class seem to have been seized by a collective cowardice on this issue, with a few honourable exceptions.
“I might not always be an MP, if I was to lose my seat next year there are various career opportunities that might be closed down to me if I don’t challenge this discrimination and this attack on my reputation.”