IN her first interview since winning her apology from Pink News after it wrongly accused her of being the subject of a homophobia inquiry, Joanna Cherry has appealed for respect on all sides of the Gender Recognition Act debate.

The prominent SNP MP, who is also a QC, sent a letter from her own lawyer to Pink News after the "hurtful" allegation of being investigated for homophobia – Cherry is a lesbian who long ago came out in public.

Pink News stated: “Last week we published and tweeted a story claiming Joanna Cherry QC the MP For Edinburgh South West and the SNP Justice and Home Affairs Spokesperson was being investigated for homophobia. The claim was untrue and we would like to apologise unreservedly to Ms Cherry.

“It is well known that Ms Cherry is a human rights lawyer. She came out as a lesbian over 30 years ago and campaigned against Section 28. She has spent a lifetime marching and campaigning for the rights of the LGBT+ community and as a politician regularly speaks up for their rights in Parliament and beyond.

“It was not our intention nor is it in our interest to alienate any member of the LGBT+ community and we are truly sorry for the harm caused.”

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Speaking exclusively to The National, Cherry said: “I was very upset and angry that a UK wide news organisation whose aim is to represent the LGBTI community could publish such a damaging and untrue story about me. I am pleased that they have now withdrawn this ludicrous but hurtful allegation following the intervention of my solicitor. I was delighted to nominate the Lesbian and Gay immigration group for a charitable donation in lieu of damages.

“As I have said publicly I believe in equal rights for everyone including trans people. In Scotland we are lucky to live in a generally very tolerant society and in a country which has good rights-based protections for LGBTI people. By importing some of the debate and language used in the USA and elsewhere, where people’s rights are being actively undermined, we are at risk of losing sight of the good in our society and law.

“There is a current debate about reform to the Gender Recognition Act. I believe it is important that we move forward by consensus and that where there is a potential for rights to compete we explore these issues sensitively and listen to both sides of the debate.

“The rights and concerns of women, and girls and those of the lesbian community must be treated with respect.”