KATE Forbes has said the cancelling of an event with an SNP colleague by a major Edinburgh comedy venue risks undermining the city’s “international reputation as the home of the Enlightenment”.

The live discussion with Joanna Cherry has been called off by The Stand comedy club, with reports claiming staff were not comfortable working at the event with the MP, who opposes self-identification for transgender people.

Writing in her column in The National, which will be published on Wednesday, Forbes said this example together with the recent cancellation of a controversial film about transgender issues, highlighted the need to “protect the cultural that fosters the free and frank exchange of ideas”.

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She said: “George Orwell said that, 'unpopular ideas can be silenced … without the need for any official ban'.

“It feels like we are increasingly seeing that, not least this week at Edinburgh University, as protesters blocked the entrance to a venue that was screening a film.

“I thought the First Minister was absolutely right when he responded to a question about the protest at First Minister’s Questions last week.

“He said, 'we should ensure that our universities—and society more generally—are places where we can have even robust exchanges of ideas'.

“Elsewhere in the great city of the Enlightenment, Joanna Cherry has effectively been ‘cancelled’ by a public venue on account of her views.”

Forbes said beyond the legal implications, the decision raised “serious issues for all of us in public life”.

“It risks undermining Edinburgh’s international reputation as the home of the Enlightenment,” she said.

“The free and frank exchange of ideas is required for society’s flourishing. Exploring, interrogating, and dismissing ideas all depend on those ideas being heard in the first place, without fear.

“Human progress is propelled by concepts and beliefs that emerge from intellectual, evidenced, and experienced debate.”

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Forbes, who came under scrutiny for her views on issues such as equal marriage and abortion during the recent SNP leadership contest, said she had received many letters stating from people stating that they disagreed with her views – but would “absolutely defend” her right to express them.

“We must think seriously about what can be done to shore up free expression, for the sake of generations to come,” she said.

“Part of this will be articulating the many positives of free speech for society.

“It may also require a more robust defence of civil liberties in education and the public square.”