Two different venues in Edinburgh cancelled the hosting of a comedy show after learning it featured Irish comedian and gender critical activist Graham Linehan.
Linehan, the creative mind behind hit sitcom Father Ted, was set to perform as part of the Comedy Unleashed show in Edinburgh on August 18, during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. But the venue which had been initially planned to host the event, Leith Arches, announced this past Tuesday that they were cancelling the show as a result of Linehan’s appearance.
Linehan has become a vocal opponent of gender ideology over the past few years, expressing condemnation of the medical transitioning of minors and calling attention to the impact gender self-identification policies have on women.
Linehan was banned from X (formerly Twitter) for nearly two years after tweeting “men aren’t women though” in 2020, but was reinstated in December of 2022 after Elon Musk purchased the platform and made sweeping content policy reforms.
“We are an inclusive venue and this does not align with our overall values,” the venue, which regularly hosts LGBT nights and drag queen events, wrote in a post on Instagram. They claimed that they were not aware that Linehan was set to perform until it was announced on social media, as he had previously just been billed as a mystery guest.
“We work very closely with the LGBT+ community, it is a considerable part of our revenue, we believe hosting this one-off show would have a negative effect on our future bookings,” they confirmed in a later post.
“There is no explanation as to what views the Leith Arches find offensive,” Linehan said in a post to X (formerly Twitter), asking for details as to their reasoning. “It sure sounds like discrimination on the grounds of my legally protected beliefs.” The Irish comedian later confirmed to GB News that they were beginning legal proceedings against the venue, and were looking for “at least an apology.”
A second, unnamed venue was then organized for Thursday’s show, but Comedy Unleashed announced at 4PM that afternoon that they had also cancelled, informing ticket holders via email that they had acquired a third location later revealed to be at the steps of Scottish Parliament.
“I just think it’s become such a big issue that people are just getting cold feet and don’t want the attention, and I understand that,” said Andy Shaw, the co-founder of Comedy Unleashed, adding that he harboured no ill will to the second venue. “It’s not ideological at all. They just want a quiet life. It has been the hardest gig I have ever organised in my life. It should be a lot easier.”
Footage later posted by Shaw on X revealed that a large crowd had gathered outside of Scottish Parliament before the show commenced. The show went as planned with no disruptions.
“I’m often accused of being rude to trans-rights activists. But JK Rowling proves that there is no tone polite enough for these zealots,” Linehan added.