Kate Forbes defends gay marriage stance
SNP leadership contender Kate Forbes has denied her campaign has been derailed by comments on gay marriage. Some key backers of the finance secretary have withdrawn their support after she said she would have voted against equal marriage laws.
Ms Forbes, a member of the Free Church of Scotland, has also said that having children outside of marriage is “wrong” according to her faith. She said people wanted politicians to give “straight answers”.
The Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP has also said she would not seek to overturn gay marriage laws if she succeeds Nicola Sturgeon as Scotland’s first minister, and has apologised for any “pain” her comments have caused.
She is one of three confirmed candidates in the contest, alongside Heath Secretary Humza Yousaf and Ash Regan, the former community safety minister who quit over the Scottish government’s gender self-identification reforms. Scottish government ministers Richard Lochhead, Tom Arthur and Clare Haughey have withdrawn their support for Ms Forbes, as have health committee convener Gillian Martin and MP Drew Hendry.
The finance secretary, who was first elected to Holyrood in 2016 and has been on maternity leave, said she would have voted against gay marriage in Scotland when it was made legal in 2014 because it clashed with her views as a member of the evangelical Free Church of Scotland that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Speaking to BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland, the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP denied her campaign had been irreparably damaged by the fallout. Absolutely not,” she said. “We have a large party membership, most of whom are not on Twitter, and I understand that 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 tried to do in the media yesterday. That doesn’t necessarily allow for much nuance.” Ms Forbes insisted that she would not attempt to row back on the gay marriage legislation if she became first minister.
She said: “My position on these matters is I will defend to the hilt everybody’s right in a pluralistic and tolerant society to live and to love free of harassment and fear.
“And in the same way I hope that others can be afforded the rights of people of faith to practice fairly mainstream teaching. And that is the nuance that we need to capture on equal marriage.
“Equal marriages is a legal right, and as a servant of democracy, rather than a dictator, I absolutely respect and defend that democratic right. The Free Church of Scotland is an evangelical and Calvinist denomination of Christianity that believes the Bible is “God’s Word and that it should be central in all that we do”.
Its website says it has 100 local churches across Scotland, five in North America and one in London and claims to have 13,000 people attending services every week.
The church is often colloquially known as the Wee Frees – a term it dislikes – and was formed in 1900 by members of the original Free Church of Scotland who refused to be part of the merger with the United Presbyterian Church that formed the United Free Church of Scotland.
The church opposes same-sex marriage and abortion, with then-moderator Rev David Robertson predicting in 2015 that society would one day “look back with horror” on the “evil” of abortion in the same way that it looks back at the evils of slavery.
It has also traditionally believed in keeping Sundays as a day of worship and rest. Ms. Forbes later told Times Radio that she “she regrets enormously the pain or hurt that has been caused” by her comments on gay marriage, adding that she had not intended to do so and that “I would seek forgiveness if that is how it’s come across.”
In an interview with Sky News she said she personally believes that “sex is for marriage” and that having children outside of marriage “would be wrong according to my faith”.
However, she said it is entirely up to other people what they do, adding: “In a free society you can do what you want”. Ms. Forbes also said she believes that trans rapist Isla Bryson – who was initially sent to a women’s prison – is a man because “a rapist cannot be a woman”.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon repeatedly refused to answer whether she regarded Bryson as being a man or a woman, saying that “I regard the individual as a rapist”.
LGBT group Out for Independence, which is affiliated to the SNP, said it was “incredibly disappointed with the way this leadership campaign has been conducted and the tone and language that have been adopted toward the LGBTQ+ community”.
In other news- Humza Yousaf and Ash Regan launch bids to become SNP leader
Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and former minister Ash Regan have announced they will stand to take over from Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister.
The pair, who revealed their plans to run in the Sunday Mail, are the first to declare their candidacy. Learn more