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Saturday 3 June 2023 Dublin: 7°C
PA SNP leader candidate Kate Forbes
# Kate Forbes
SNP leadership hopeful still running ‘at the moment’ amid controversy over religious views
Kate Forbes, running to be the leader of the SNP, attracted criticism after she said she would not have voted for same sex marriage.

LAST UPDATE | Feb 21st 2023, 3:29 PM

A CANDIDATE IN the race to be the next leader of the Scottish National Party has said she is still running “at the moment”, as she came under sustained fire for her religious beliefs and comments on same sex marriage.

Kate Forbes is one of three candidates currently standing to replace Nicola Sturgeon as both First Minister and Scottish National Party (SNP) leader.

But Forbes, a member of the Free Church of Scotland, lost some of her high profile supporters in the leadership contest after she said she would not have voted for gay marriage.

Equal marriage was made legal in Scotland in 2014 with an overwhelming majority of 105 votes to 18. Forbes was not elected until 2016.

She has now said that having children outside of marriage “would be wrong according to my faith” and is something she would personally “seek to avoid”.

Asked her views on this, she told Sky News that having a child out of wedlock “would be wrong according to my faith”, but stressed it was a choice for people to make in a free society.

She also said she had “celebrated” babies born to family members and friends who were unmarried.

“We either live in a tolerant society where I can celebrate the birth of children, irrespective of the family, or not and do celebrate those lives being brought into the world.”

Forbes was on maternity leave following the birth of her first child last year when she launched her campaign yesterday to succeed Sturgeon.

Within hours she had revealed she would not have voted for same-sex marriage if she had been in Holyrood when the legislation was passed, with these comments seeing her lose the support of some high-profile backers.

Asked by STV News if she was still committed to seeing her campaign through, despite that loss of support, Forbes said: “At the moment, yes.”

She added “at the moment” she was committed to continuing her campaign until 27 March – when the ballot for SNP members to choose their party’s new leader closes.

Forbes, Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and former community safety minister Ash Regan are all running in the contest to replace Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and First Minister following her surprise resignation announcement last week.

Forbes had earlier said that to be speaking forthrightly about her religious views, she had tried to “answer straight questions with straight answers”.

She told BBC Radio Scotland: “I understand people have very strong views on these matters. I think the public are longing for politicians to answer straight questions with straight answers and that’s certainly what I’ve tried to do in the media yesterday.”

She added that she would defend the rights of LGBT+ people to live “free of harassment, fear and prejudice”.

The Finance Secretary said: “My position on these matters is that I will defend to the hilt everybody’s rights in a pluralistic and tolerant society, to live and to love free of harassment and fear.”

Regan took to Twitter to indicate her support for same-sex marriage, saying simply “love is love”, while Yousaf stated he would “always fight for the equal rights of others”.

Asked what he thought of what Forbes had to say on same-sex marriage, he told the Good Morning Scotland programme: “It’s for her to defend her views, I’ve made my views very clear.

“I think my track record on equality issues speaks loud and clear.

“I’m a minority in this country, I have been my entire life and my rights don’t exist in some kind of vacuum, my rights are interdependent on other people’s rights and therefore I believe very firmly, in fact with every fibre in my being, that your equality is my equality, therefore I’ll always fight for the equal rights of others regardless of who they are.”

It comes after Yousaf said in an interview with Andrew Marr on LBC yesterday that he would not legislate on the basis of his faith and is a supporter of equal marriage.

Gillian Martin, the convener of Holyrood’s Health Committee also said she could no longer support Forbes as a result of her views on same-sex marriage.

Martin said: “For me that’s a red line. Fulsome support for equal marriage or nothing.”

Forbes has also said she would not have voted for the Scottish Government’s controversial Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill in its current form.

As she was on maternity leave, she did not participate in the final vote before the new year but has been clear on her opposition since 2019.

Regan is also opposed to the legislation – which has been blocked by Westminster – and stepped down from her role as community safety minister last year so she could vote against the Bill.

Yousaf, however, has made clear his support for the legislation, saying he would challenge the Section 35 order the UK Government used to veto it.

Speaking on the BBC, he described it as “an attempt by the UK Government to undermine the democratic will of the Scottish Parliament” and suggested Westminster was trying to “stoke a culture war.”

Yousaf said: “The fundamental principle here is a piece of legislation passed by the majority of Parliament which has a red pen put through it by the UK Government on a whim and that is not acceptable regardless of whether you believe in the legislation and the substance of it or not.”

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