The Scottish Tories are demanding an apology from an SNP MP after she described a performance at a Scottish independence convention event in which Ruth Davidson was branded “dykey” as “hilarious”
Joanna Cherry came under fire after she tweeted her enjoyment of the “hilariously irreverent satire” from the comedy group Witsherface at the relaunch of the convention in Glasgow, two years on from the independence referendum.
In a spoof rap battle, openly gay Ms Davidson was referred to as “Ruth ‘Dykey’ D” by one of the female performers.
Ms Cherry, SNP MP for Edinburgh South West and SNP justice spokeswoman, prompted an angry reaction on social media after she tweeted: “Hilariously irreverent satire from brilliant #Witsherface still laughing”.
Equalities campaigners at Stonewall Scotland said afterwards: “We must always challenge homophobic language - not doing so makes it acceptable for others to use it too.”
Colin McFarlane, director of the LGBT charity, said: “Calling someone a ‘dyke’ is homophobic. If it goes unchallenged it gives the green light for others to follow suit.”
Ms Cherry tweeted afterwards: “It’s a shame if anyone was offended today. I wasn’t but as an out lesbian & long term supporter of #LGBT rights I obvs condemn homophobia.”
Conservative equalities spokeswoman Annie Wells called on the MP to “reassess” her promotion of the act and “apologise to Ruth Davidson for the direct attack on her sexuality”.
Ms Wells cited research by Stonewall as showing a third of people surveyed had reported hearing “hateful and abusive language aimed at LGBT people” in the prior month,
In a letter to Ms Cherry, the Tory MSP said: “The prevalence of such hate speech is one of the reasons Stonewall launched its No Bystanders campaign, asking people to stand up to homophobic language when they hear it. Nicola Sturgeon is a signatory to the campaign.”
Scottish Labour called on the First Minister to distance herself from Ms Cherry’s comments.
A party spokesman said: “It is important for politicians to challenge language like this, otherwise people will believe that such behaviour is acceptable.
“There can be no place in Scotland for intolerance, be it homophobic or in any other form.
“Tackling homophobia remains a major challenge, with a 20% increase in 2015-16 in charges reported with an aggravation of prejudice relating to sexual orientation.
“It is therefore extremely disappointing that one SNP MP has tried to defend this performance. The SNP leadership should distance itself from Joanna Cherry’s comments.”