Edinburgh seat at risk of legal action after MP ‘deleted’ over gender views

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<p><figcaption class=Cinematography: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

One of the most popular venues on the Edinburgh festival fringe could be at risk of legal action, lawyers have said, after staff refused to work an event with SNP MP Joanna Cherry.

The MP, who has been vocal in her opposition to self-identification for transgender people, told the Guardian she was “considering her options” but would prefer to settle the matter privately. Comedy club The Stand said Cherry’s appearance at the fringe festival in August had been canceled because “key operations personnel” were unwilling to work with her.

Cherry said: “It’s clearly a case of unlawful discrimination and the Stand needs to think about whether it’s something they really want to do.”

She added, “The law is clear enough that my beliefs about gender are protected after the Forstater case.” Last year, Maya Forstater, a researcher who lost her job at a think tank after tweeting that transgender women couldn’t change their biological sex, won her claim that she was being unfairly discriminated against because of her beliefs gender criticism of her.

Cherry added: “I’m sick of being misrepresented. I’ve never said anything transphobic, but I’m against self-identification.

Cherry has for several years voiced her strong opposition to the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill – which was later vetoed by the UK Government due to concerns about how it would affect equality law in across the UK – as well as being a critique of former Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership style.

A number of prominent lawyers, including Roddy Dunlop KC, the dean of the Faculty of Advocates, said the Stand’s decision was illegal. Dunlop tweeted, “Is the venue aware it would be vulnerable to a discrimination claim?”

In a statement, The Stand said: “Following extensive discussions with our staff, it has become clear that a number of key operational staff, including venue management and box office staff, are unwilling to work on this event.

“We will make sure their views are respected. We will not force our staff to work on this event and therefore have concluded that the event is unable to proceed properly staffed, safe and legally compliant.

The show was part of an ‘In Conversation With’ series, organized by independent producer Fair Pley, which will include director Ken Loach and former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Cherry said she wanted to emphasize that she was invited by Stand, and then the producer, to participate and that she was not asked to speak specifically about her gender-critical views on a variety of topics, including her work as an MP , its involvement in the prorogation case and Scottish independence.

She added, “Clearly the point of view I support is out there now, despite the best efforts of others to silence it, with the public backlash against the gender recognition bill and the horror of the Isla Bryson case.” .

There was outrage across the political and electoral spectrum in January after Bryson, a transgender woman found guilty of raping two women before transitioning, was transferred to Scotland’s Cornton Vale Women’s Prison for evaluation. Polls suggest that opposing the UK government’s veto of Holyrood’s gender recognition reforms is not a public priority.

Over the weekend, it emerged that students who blocked the screening of a film claiming women are defined solely by their biological sex at the University of Edinburgh could face disciplinary action, after Sir Peter Mathieson, dean and vice-chancellor, said he “condemned the actions that impeded freedom of expression and freedom of assembly on our campus”.

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