JK Rowling shows support for MP whose show was cancelled over views
2nd May 2023

JK Rowling shows her support for lesbian SNP MP Joanna Cherry after show at Edinburgh Fringe Festival was cancelled because of her gender-critical views

  • JK Rowling tweeted: ‘Jo Cherry’s completely right about modern McCarthyism’

JK Rowling has publicly backed Nationalist MP Joanna Cherry after her Edinburgh Fringe Festival show was cancelled following a staff boycott. 

Ms Cherry is considering legal action against The Stand Comedy Club after bosses scrapped an appearance by the feminist politician at one of its ‘In conversation with…’ events because a number of staff were ‘unwilling’ to work at the show.

Yesterday Ms Cherry, a lawyer and lesbian activist who was an outspoken opponent of the SNP’s Gender Reform Bill, urged the club to ‘reconsider’ and said she was weighing up taking legal action.

She said her treatment was ‘like a new form of McCarthyism’ – the US phenomenon in the 1950s when unsubstantiated allegations were made about people suspected of being communists. 

‘This is like a new form of McCarthyism where any lesbian or feminist who doesn’t subscribe to gender identity ideology is losing the ability to have a public platform and in some cases losing their ability to earn a living,’ she said.  

Author JK Rowling and Roddy Dunlop, KC, dean of the Faculty of Advocates, are among the high-profile supporters of Ms Cherry.

Ms Cherry, a lawyer and lesbian activist who was an outspoken opponent of the SNP’s Gender Reform Bill, urged the club to ‘reconsider’

Harry Potter author JK Rowling is among the high-profile supporters of Ms Cherry

 Ms Rowling tweeted: ‘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.’

Ms Cherry, 57, MP for Edinburgh South West earlier told Times Radio: ‘My options would include legal action. The law is very clear on this.

‘I think we’re all very clear that people shouldn’t be discriminated against on the grounds of their sexuality, and the protected characteristic for lesbians like me is sexual orientation. It’s not gender orientation, it’s sexual orientation.

‘What I’d like is for The Stand to reconsider their position. The whole point of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is that it’s supposed to be a platform for anyone and everyone to come and perform.

‘I can absolutely assure you that I would have a good case here. Whether or not I choose to follow that option is something I’m thinking about.’

Ms Cherry added: ‘I hope other politicians will speak out in support of me and I hope that the Edinburgh Fringe will perhaps intervene and do something. This is very insidious. 

‘If we establish a precedent whereby staff at a venue can stop somebody from speaking because they disagree with their views then, really, where does it end?’ 

Nationalist MP Joanna Cherry is considering legal action against a comedy club amid a backlash over the cancellation of a show she was due to appear in at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Read more: JK Rowling mocks trans activists threatening to boycott her new Harry Potter TV show as the £850m author says she’ll hit back by throwing party 

Mr Dunlop said: ‘It’s plainly unlawful. Is the venue aware that they would be vulnerable to a discrimination claim?’

The Stand, founded by Nationalist MP Tommy Sheppard, released a statement which 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.’

The initial statement by the board of directors at The Stand read: ‘We are aware of a number of concerns being raised regarding the In Conversation With Joanna Cherry event that is scheduled as part of our Edinburgh Fringe programme in August 2023. 

‘We wish to make the following comments in response: This event is part of a series. The In Conversation With … strand is not booked directly by The Stand. It is produced by independent Glasgow-based producer Fair Pley. 

‘As a company we oppose any form of discrimination, including against people on the basis of their gender identity. The Stand does not endorse or support the views expressed by any participant in this series and it is wrong for others to imply that we do.

‘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.

‘This event is open to all and will include questions from the public on any issues that might be raised. This was not specifically intended to be an event focussed on gender recognition or the rights of trans people.

Joanna Cherry is the MP for Edinburgh Southwest and the chair of the UK Parliament’s Human Rights Committee. Her invite to participate in this event is due to her wide ranging political and public role. 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.’

MailOnline has contacted The Stand for further comment.  

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