A ROW over transgender rights has broken out on the opening day of the SNP conference, with activists demanding the party whip be withdrawn from a prominent MP.

The party’s official LBGTQ+ wing, Out for Independence, signed an open letter to Nicola Sturgeon and Westminster leader Ian Blackford urging action against Joanna Cherry QC.

The signatories, who included SNP, Scottish Green and unaligned campaigners, also called om the SNP to launch an investigation into transphobia in the SNP’s ranks.

The organisers said the letter had been released to coincide with the first day of the SNP’s annual national conference, which is being held online.

A friend of Ms Cherry dismissed it as "small beer".

The letter claims Ms Cherry contradicted the SNP manifesto position against “conversion therapy”, which tries to ‘change’ someone’s sexuality or gender identity.

In a tweet earlier this month, the Edinburgh South West MP said conversion therapy, which is soon to be banned, was something which “any right thinking person must oppose”.

She then added: “We must not make it a criminal offence for therapists to try to help patients with gender dysphoria to feel comfortable in their birth sex.”

The open letter claims this last sentence amounted to Ms Cherry publicly calling for “conversion therapy aimed at transgender people to be exempt [from a ban] and that legislation on conversion therapy in general must be paused”.

The letter also accused Ms Cherry, who is gay, of making multiple “transphobic statements”.

Last week, Ms Cherry wrote a newspaper column about her beliefs on conversion therapy, and said: “Of course I’m against conversion therapy. What I want to preserve is therapy for young girls who are gender confused. Please ignore the distortions & the witch hunt”.

She wrote: “Over the past few years, there has been a very worrying rise in the number of children, particularly girls, becoming convinced they were ‘born in the wrong body’ and seeking to take puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones. 

“This is a controversial, experimental medical treatment for a complex problem. We have also seen an increase in the number of young people who have later regretted the irreversible changes made to their bodies and who have sought to ‘detransition’.

“I am concerned that young women, particularly those who may be lesbians, should be offered alternatives to such drastic medical pathways, and that their teachers, parents and therapists should not be threatened with prison and fines for discussing these options with them.”

The open letter concluded: “We the undersigned call for the SNP whip to be removed from Joanna Cherry, and for the National Secretary to investigate her actions pending a review by the member conduct committee. 

“We also reiterate calls for an independent investigation into transphobia in the SNP.”

The For Women Scotland group, which has supported Ms Cherry’s gender critical views in the past, tweeted in response: “Once again, the usual suspects have ganged up to attack Joanna Cherry. Signatories mainly drawn from zealots in the SGP [Scottish Green Party] have demanded the SNP withdraw the whip with false accusations of ‘transphobia’.”

Ms Cherry declined to comment.

However last week she said: "The Scottish National Party has a long history of intellectual rigour and open debate and I trust that will continue, notwithstanding the personalised attacks and misrepresentation by some in my party. Sadly, calm and rational discussion has been missing from this area of public policy for too long.

"As a lesbian I welcome the ban on conversion therapy as it is conventionally understood.

"However, I share the concerns of many that the inclusion of the concept of 'gender identity' in the UK Government Bill risks threatening professionals working with children and vulnerable people who are having issues with their gender if they seek to explore with them the reasons for their distress.”

The SNP have been asked for comment.