Joanna Cherry named Chair of Parliament’s Human Rights Committee despite concerns over her views on trans rights.
The SNP’s Joanna Cherry, who is mostly known for her ‘gender critical’ views, has been appointed as Chair of Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights.
At this week’s Committee meeting, Joanna Cherry MP was elected by members as our new Chair.
— UK Parliament Human Rights Committee (@HumanRightsCtte) January 11, 2024
In July 2022, Cherry was elected to cover as chair of the committee when Harriet Harman temporarily stepped down, after serving as the deputy chair.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights consists of 12 members, appointed from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, to examine matters relating to human rights within the United Kingdom, as well as scrutinising every Government Bill for its compatibility with human rights.
They are currently scrutinising bills dealing with the human rights of asylum seekers in the UK, human rights at work, protecting human rights in care settings, as well the Illegal Migration Bill which the committee already found to have ‘widespread human rights failings’.
The MP for Edinburgh South was most recently involved in an ‘incident’ where she appeared to roll her eyes during a parliamentary debate on trans rights as an MP read a letter from a trans constituent, talking about her thoughts of suicide.
This incident was captured in a viral clip on Twitter but did not, of course, reach the papers in any critical report.
The moment occurred when Kirsty Blackman, the MP for Aberdeen North, was discussing the case of a trans woman in her constituency who had considered suicide, partly due to transphobia.
Cherry’s reaction in the video appeared to be one of disapproval or dismissal of the points being made about the impact on trans people and was met with widespread criticism from trans people and allies.
In response to the backlash, Cherry issued a statement to Pink News.
She criticised what she perceived as misrepresentations of her reaction during the Commons debate.
Cherry said that her “body language” was indicative of her “disapproval of claims that those of us supporting the clarification petition are causing trans people to have suicidal ideation and ‘will not rest easy until trans people are excluded from public life’.”
She argued that “raising suicide threats as a response to legitimate debate in parliament was irresponsible”, a common anti-trans attack point where it is believed that trans people weaponize suicide to manipulate others.
It is a claim without evidence or merit which seems designed to minimise the high levels of suicide in the trans community.
Her profile on the Sex Matters website, linked above, ends with the paragraph, “When relegated to the backbenches for her gender-critical views she resumed legal practice on a limited basis to defend other women unfairly discriminated against for their beliefs.”
During the SNP leadership election, Cherry was the only SNP MP to back Ash Regan, introducing her at the launch of her campaign. Regan had previously resigned in opposition to the SNP’s Gender Recognition Bill.
Both fought against their own party’s Bill, which was passed after six years of extensive consultations and cross-party support, only to be blocked by the UK Government.
Cherry has given interviews claiming she has been ‘cancelled’ whilst also claiming that she has been erased from ‘SNP history’ despite, at the time of the complaint, featuring more times on the SNP website than former leaders of the party.
Cherry also believes that universities, employers and political parties “have all been captured by a misrepresentation of the Equality Act” when it comes to trans people and that her views on trans rights cost her the chance of becoming SNP leader.