Skip to main content

The Stand Comedy Club

Joanna Cherry KC MP has released the following statement in relation to the recent cancellation of the Stand “In Conversation with Joanna Cherry” event previously scheduled for 10th August. 

Joanna Cherry said:

“In January, I accepted an invitation from The Stand to speak at an event in The Fringe this coming August. To my disappointment, and after initially backing the event, the Board of The Stand cancelled the event, citing concerns expressed by staff who were unwilling to work at it. The event has been running for four years and has a wide and diverse range of speakers, including from various political backgrounds.

I immediately required to defend my reputation. I said last week on BBC Radio Scotland:

"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.

“Because a small number of people don't like my feminist and lesbian activism, I'm being prevented from talking about these things and others 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 the last few days, I have been greatly heartened by the support I have received. Many well-informed people have made it clear that they consider the decision of The Stand to be both unacceptable and discriminatory. Despite those views, and my stated desire that the Stand ‘see sense’, there has been no reversal of the decision.

Accordingly, I decided to seek legal advice on the issue and on my options.

I have received the opinion of the eminent and leading human rights advocate, Aidan O’Neill KC who considers that The Stand have acted unlawfully. My solicitor David McKie of Levy & McRae agrees with that view and has today written to The Stand on my behalf. Given the very public statements which have been made about me by The Stand and in the press and on social media, some of which have been threatening and/or abusive, I have decided to release both my solicitor’s letter and the opinion of senior counsel.

The actions of the Stand and all that has followed thereon are symptomatic of a wider problem in our society. I am very concerned that those who hold perfectly legitimate views on a variety of issues, including women like me are regularly being misrepresented, de-platformed and, in some cases, facing damage to or the loss of our livelihoods. This is often accompanied by online abuse and threats. The debate on gender self-identification is a very important one which must be allowed to take place, but I am a woman of many parts who was engaged to talk about my political life in general and I see the cancelling of my one-hour event as the thin end of the wedge.

I am prepared to take whatever legal action is necessary to vindicate my right not to be misrepresented and not to be discriminated against. This is not about money. My primary goal is to have the actions of the Stand acknowledged as unlawful and to ensure the event proceeds. I have asked The Stand to apologise to me too. If they don’t agree with my reasonable requests, I intend to ask the court to decide on the issue. I hope that my actions in defending myself will give courage to everyone particularly women who wish to express views on legitimate issues of public interest. That, after all, is the very job of a politician and one of the reasons I entered politics in the first place.”