I will not suppress my views on gender, says Joanna Cherry, SNP hopeful The Times 23.11.19

The original article is here.

A prominent SNP candidate who has been branded transphobic has said she will not be bullied for her belief that “male-bodied individuals” should not have women’s rights.

Joanna Cherry, the Edinburgh South West candidate who successfully campaigned for her Labour opponent Frances Carmel Hoole to be deselected for posting a derogatory tweet, said there was a “big dose of misogyny” in the debate over whether people can declare their own gender without medical certification.

Ms Hoole posted a picture of Ms Cherry with the words: “Bang and the Terf is gone”. Terf, or trans-exclusionary radical feminist, is a derogatory term for those who do not accept trans women in women-only places.

Ms Cherry said the debate had become “utterly toxic” and she had received death threats.

The row spilled over into a full-page advertisement in The Herald yesterday calling on Joan McAlpine, the SNP MSP, and Jenny Marra, the Labour MSP, to resign because of claims that they invited transphobic speakers to the Scottish parliament.

The advert, written in Scots and promoted by an organisation called Anent Transphobia, accused the MSPs of “emotional abuse” of the “vulnerable trans community”.

All three politicians said they would not be silenced by transgender lobbyists. On the Political Thinking podcast, hosted by the BBC journalist Nick Robinson, Ms Cherry said: “I am a lesbian and have been out for 30 years, and came out at a time when people were losing their jobs as a result of being gay, and when there weren’t equal rights for gay people.

“I also come at it as a feminist, and I have never said that I was not in favour of trans rights. In my former life as an advocate I worked for three years as a specialist sex crimes prosecutor, and prosecuted for rape, sexual offences and a large number of historical sex abuse cases.

“So I have good reason to understand the vulnerability of women and girls to sex abuse from male-bodied individuals — from men.”

She added that the majority of men did not abuse women, but the majority of sex abuse was carried out by men and that was one reason that the Equalities Act provided for sex-segregated spaces.

“Like many other feminist politicians, and indeed male allies in the SNP and the Labour Party and indeed now the Lib Dems, I have concerns that rushing through self-identification legislation without looking at the impact on the Equalities Act could have unintended consequences.”

She criticised Twitter for suspending the accounts of women who “say things like ‘women don’t have penises’, stating a biological fact”.

“There is a big dose of misogyny in this debate, and I am just not prepared to give in to it. I won’t be bullied, and I won’t be silenced,” she added.

In a joint statement, Ms McAlpine and Ms Marra called the advertisement “another attempt to smear and silence women for talking about their rights”.

They said: “It will not succeed. The Declaration of Women’s Sex-Based Rights, a document that underlines the fact that much of the discrimination and violence that women experience globally — including FGM [female genital mutilation], selective abortion, rape, sexual exploitation and maternal mortality — is related to their sex at birth, not their ‘gender identity’.

“It is not ‘transphobic’ to discuss these matters and to ensure that the laws we pass protect all groups of people, including women.”

Stonewall, the LGBT rights group, declined to comment. The Scottish Trans Alliance was also contacted.

First minister is politician of the year for fifth time

Nicola Sturgeon has been named Scottish politician of the year for a record fifth time (Katrine Bussey writes).

The first minister was given the honour for her efforts to ensure that the wishes of Scottish voters are respected in the Brexit process. She saw off competition from the Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw and the Scottish Green MSP John Finnie, in the awards organised by The Herald newspaper.

Ms Sturgeon was one of four winners for the SNP at the awards ceremony, with Joanna Cherry, the SNP MP, Derek Mackay, the Scottish finance secretary, and Susan Aitken, the Glasgow city council leader, all being recognised for their achievements.

Collecting her award at a ceremony at Prestonfield House Hotel in Edinburgh, the SNP leader said it was “greatly appreciated”. She added: “Nice though this is, I think I probably speak for all the politicians in the room when I say we don’t come into politics to win awards, we much prefer winning elections.”

Ms Cherry was named best Scot at Westminster for her role in legal challenges to the Brexit process, which resulted in the UK Supreme Court ruling that Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament was unlawful.

Mr Mackay was presented with the politics in business award over efforts to keep the Ferguson shipyard on the Clyde open, with the Scottish government having signed a contract to take the yard into public ownership after it went into administration.

Ms Aitken, the first SNP leader of Glasgow city council, was named Scottish local politician of the year, after her administration settled an equal pay claim brought by female workers, with thousands of women receiving settlements averaging £35,000.