Comedy troupe defends use of homophobic slur at Scottish independence rally

Kate Jacobson
Writer

A Glasgow rally for Scottish independence is facing accusations of homophobia after performers referred to Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson as “Ruth Dykey-D”.

The incident occurred during a spoof rap battle performed by the all-female comedy collective “Witsherface”. The performance was intended to satirise Scotland’s female political leaders, including SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.

The rally was held on the second anniversary of the Scottish independence referendum. The event was coordinated by the Scottish Independence Convention – an organization which is not directly affiliated with the SNP. However, the event was attended by several SNP MPs and MSPs – including the former First Minister Alex Salmond who also delivered a speech at the rally.

After widespread criticism on social media, Witsherface defended their performance as satire. Public relations manager Lynn McAdam stated: “It wasn’t written particularly to take a swipe at anybody. It was really just comedians making fun of high-profile politicians and there was no malice included in it. Everybody was rolling about in the aisles.”
The rap was written by Witsherface co-founder Karen Dunbar. Dunbar said: “As a gay woman who has experienced horrendous homophobia, I feel confused that anyone could interpret anything in the rap as being homophobic.”

However, President of the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association Conor Higgins disagreed, saying: “Overall I don’t think that was acceptable, depicting women that way. I don’t think anyone should condone that sort of behaviour.”

Higgins also objected to opposition politicians misconstruing the incident as a SNP event and said: “People in the SNP were equally taken aback.”

Colin MacFarlane of the LGBT advocacy group Stonewall Scotland also criticized the incident. He said: “Calling someone a “dyke” is homophobic. If it goes unchallenged it gives the green light for others to follow suit.”

Witsherface continue to defend the performance, commenting: “The messages of criticism and outrage have been interesting to say the least.

“We would ask that people have a good think before they attack and we would also request that everyone’s sense of humour returns. When did Scots lose the ability to take a gentle ribbing and have a good laugh at themselves. Politicians, whatever their colour or creed are always fair game when it comes to comedy. ‘Twas ever thus, and should remain so in a healthy society.’”