Comedy club apologises for cancelling MP who upset snowflake staff

An Edinburgh Fringe venue has reversed its decision to ‘no-platform’ Joanna Cherry KC MP over her belief in the reality of biological sex and apologised.

The Stand Comedy Club admitted its decision to axe ‘In Conversation with Joanna Cherry’ was unfair and reinstated the show after the prominent gender critic threatened court action.

In a substantive legal opinion for the Edinburgh South West MP, Aidan O’Neill KC concluded that ‘The Stand’ had unlawfully discriminated against Cherry because of her views on gender identity and was in breach of the Equality Act 2010.


In April, the club notified Cherry that her long standing booking was “unable to proceed” as “key operational staff” claimed they felt ‘threatened’ and were “unwilling to work” because of the local MP’s views on transgender issues.

Following the cancellation, Cherry said she was being “no-platformed” for holding “gender-critical views that somebody’s sex is immutable”.

“I’m being prevented from talking about these things and others in my home city where I’m an elected politician” she explained, adding: “Small groups of activists are now dictating who can speak and what can be discussed.”

When Cherry said she was prepared to sue the venue operator, it agreed to settle the dispute on her terms – apologising, admitting it had acted unlawfully, and restoring the event to the Fringe calendar.

We now publicly and unreservedly apologise to Ms Cherry.

‘White Knight’

O’Neill argued that The Stand’s cancellation decision has been made “expressly under reference to beliefs which are attributed to Ms. Cherry concerning the issue of ‘gender identity’” – beliefs protected under the Equality Act 2010.

The Senior Counsel dismissed the operator’s attempt to paint the decision to terminate as a “White Knight” effort to defend people from ‘offence’ and ‘discomfort’.

He countered that neither the common law nor the Equality Act “guarantees any right not to be confronted with opinions that are opposed to one’s own convictions”.

And concluded: “There will always be, in a pluralist society, strongly held beliefs that cannot be reconciled with one another. That does not mean that one or the other of those views should be prevented from being expressed.”

Legal precedents

In his expert advice, O’Neill cited extensively from legal precedents established in successful court actions taken by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).

In 2021, Blackpool Council was ordered to pay out over £100,000 for discriminating against Christians, after it removed bus adverts for Lancashire Festival of Hope at which BGEA’s Franklin Graham was speaking.

And in 2022, BGEA was awarded almost as much in damages when Glasgow’s OVO Hydro was found to be in breach of contract and guilty of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 for cancelling an evangelistic rally due to Franklin Graham’s mainstream Christian beliefs on marriage and sexual ethics.

O’Neill also made reference in his legal summary to Maya Forstater’s victory at Employment Tribunal in 2022, where Judge Andrew Glennie ruled that Maya Forstater had been subject to both “direct discrimination” and “victimisation” by her employer for defending the reality of biological sex.

Also see:


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