Joanna Cherry demands SNP leadership 'call out' abuse she faces

A senior SNP MP and high-profile critic of the party’s gender self-identity reform has called on Nicola Sturgeon to condemn the abuse she faces due to opposition to the Gender Recognition Act reforms.

Joanna Cherry, the SNP MP for Edinburgh South-West, took to Twitter to demand action on the abuse she and other critics of the legislation face.

Criticising the SNP’s handling of abuse against her, Ms Cherry said she is regularly threatened and abused for “standing up for women’s rights in my work on the Human Rights Committee” and shared a “violent” image she often received.

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Referencing a comment from SNP MP Alyn Smith, who had been “leading work to root out online bots and trolls from the Yes movement” in a story from The Times, Ms Cherry linked to comments about online interference in Scottish politics.

Joanna Cherry has called on Nicola Sturgeon to call out abuse she receives around the Gender Recognition Act.
Joanna Cherry has called on Nicola Sturgeon to call out abuse she receives around the Gender Recognition Act.

In a thread, she said: “Unfortunately this problem started close to home and continues [to be] led by a number of actors, some of whom are SNP members and close to Mr Smith.

"Despite my complaints, indeed pleas for help, nothing has been done to address this issue.

"Last year as part of this campaign of intimidation I received what Police Scotland and the Met considered a credible death threat and required police protection. As you can imagine this takes quite a toll on me, my girlfriend, my family and my staff.

"When is someone in the leadership of my party going to call out the campaign of abuse, smears, and violent intimidation against me?

"I am pleading with our leader Nicola Sturgeon to do something or at the very least acknowledge the problem I face.”

Her sister also took to Twitter in support of the MP, with Ali Anderson stating: "Why does the SNP take no action to protect her? I even see some of her colleagues following accounts on Twitter that regularly abuse her, usually accounts held by young men with connections to the party.”

Much of the abuse Ms Cherry receives stems from her opposition to the Scottish Government’s proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, which would allow transgender people to self-declare their gender identity rather than needing a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

The proposals to change the law have proven controversial with transgender groups campaigning heavily for reform, stating the current process to gain a Gender Recognition Certificate is "demeaning”.

New women's groups have sprung up in response raising concerns that allowing self-ID undermines women's rights and single-sex spaces.

Challenged on the issue on Good Morning Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said: “I don’t know what she’s talking about.

"I’ve not seen tweets. I condemn abuse anybody gets, whoever they are and on whatever issue.

"I get more than my fair share of abuse as somebody in my position is always going to get.

"I am a believer in putting forward arguments and having a civilised debate.

"I condemn abuse whether it is to Joanna Cherry, anybody else in my party, or even my political opponents.

"I think one of the real problems of the tone and tenor of our political debate right now is that it is too often polarised where we chuck grenades at each other rather than try and listen and understand each other's position.”

The SNP have been contacted for comment.

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