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‘Gender critical’ MP Joanna Cherry sacked from SNP front bench

Nick Duffy February 1, 2021
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Backlash as Joanna Cherry made deputy chair of human rights group

SNP MP Joanna Cherry has been promoted to deputy chair of the UK Parliament's Human Rights Committee. (Getty/Ken Jack)

‘Gender critical’ SNP MP Joanna Cherry has been sacked from her party’s front bench.

The Scottish nationalist, who has been an outspoken opponent of transgender rights reforms, was let go from her role as the party’s home affairs and justice spokesperson in a reshuffle on Monday.

Cherry said in a tweet: “Despite hard work, results and a strong reputation I’ve been sacked today from the SNP front bench. My constituents and fellow party members who gave me a resounding mandate in recent NEC elections should rest assured that I will continue to work hard for them.”

After her removal, Cherry declared that Westminster is “increasingly irrelevant to Scotland’s constitutional future” and that the SNP should “radically re-think our strategy”.

Cherry will continue to sit as an SNP MP in the House of Commons as a backbencher, not representing the party on a specific policy portfolio.

Joanna Cherry had threatened action against SNP’s LGBT+ wing in Twitter dispute

The SNP has not specified why Cherry was removed in the reshuffle.

However, her removal from post comes a week after she engaged in a Twitter spat with the party’s official LGBT+ wing, Out for Independence.

The spat began when Cherry accused Twitter of “hateful conduct” for banning ‘gender critical’ family law barrister Sarah Phillimore, who has repeatedly invoked the Nazis and the Holocaust in posts criticising trans rights.

After her message, Out for Independence posted a tweet challenging “the support given to Sarah Phillimore today by an SNP MP”, adding: “Bigotry in all forms must be opposed.”

Though not mentioned by name, Cherry responded: “Your tweet is grossly defamatory and in breach of the SNP code of conduct. I’ve reported it to the party’s national secretary and he has promised me to take urgent action.”

When the actor David Paisley challenged Cherry over the context of Phillimore’s messages invoking the Holocaust, Cherry told him to “grow up”.

Scottish National Party MP Joanna Cherry
Scottish National Party MP Joanna Cherry (Getty/Andy Buchanan / AFP)

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon had promised ‘zero tolerance’ for transphobia

The dispute between Cherry and Out for Independence followed the public resignation of prominent transgender SNP activist Teddy Hope, who accused the party of being a “hub of transphobia” as they quit.

A day after the Twitter row, Scotland’s justice minister Humza Yousaf proposed an amendment to a hate crime law in the Scottish Parliament to legally protect “criticism of transgender identity”. Critics say the proposed change would turn the bill into a “transphobe’s charter”.

The overlapping disputes on transgender issues prompted a significant intervention from SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who made clear in a video message that she would act to stamp out any intolerance in the party.

Sturgeon made clear on 27 January: “Over the course of the day I’ve heard reports of young people in significant numbers leaving the SNP.

“I know many of you personally – I consider you friends, I have campaigned alongside you. You are a credit to our party and our country. It grieves me deeply that you’ve reached this conclusion after much soul searching because you consider at this stage the SNP not to be a safe, tolerant or welcoming place for trans people

“That is not acceptable to me. As SNP leader I will do everything I can to change that impression and persuade all of you that the SNP is your party and you should come home where you belong. We have differences of opinion on gender recognition reform and should debate those openly and respectfully, but no debate can be a cover for transphobia. Transphobia is wrong and we must treat it with zero tolerance.”

A number of other major SNP figures have also shared messages in support of trans rights amid the disputes.

Related topics: joanna cherry, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland, SNP, Trans, transphobia

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