SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes has said that she would have voted against same-sex marriage legislation had she been a member of parliament at the time.
The finance secretary, who had been touted as a frontrunner in the race to replace Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader, made the admission to The Scotsman. It came hours after she officially announced her candidacy.
Forbes also commented recently on her views of the controversial gender reform debate in Scotland. She was one of the only SNP MSPs to abstain from voting on the legislation in Holyrood as she was on maternity leave at the time of the vote, but told reporters that she would not vote for the bill in its current form.
She is a member of the Free Church of Scotland. However, Forbes has said that there has been “iliberal discourse” in the discussion of the impact her faith has on her politics.
Her personal stance has seen some MSPs rescind their endorsment of Forbes’ and her campaign to be leader, including backers such as Richard Lochhead and Tom Arthur. Transport Secretary Humza Yousaf has now replaced Forbes as the main frontrunner to take over as party leader and First Minister, with Ash Regan also announcing her candidacy.
What did Kate Forbes say about same-sex marriage?
In an interview with The Scotsman, Forbes said she would not have supported the 2014 bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Scotland as a “matter of conscience”. She was first elected to parliament in 2016.
Forbes likened her position to that of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She said: “I think for me, Angela Merkel is the example I would follow, I would have voted, as a matter of conscience, along the lines of mainstream teaching in most major religions that marriage is between a man and a woman.
“But I would have respected and defended the democratic choice that was made. It is a legal right now and I am a servant of democracy, I am not a dictator.”
Forbes has defended her faith, its impact on her politics and criticisms that it could influence her policies if she were to become Forst Minister. She said: “It is quite an illiberal discourse. Because if we get into the territory of suggesting that anyone who holds public office is to be barred to people of faith, then it sends a very bad signal to the countless people of faith and no faith in Scotland today.”
What did Kate Forbes say about having sex before marriage?
In a follow up interview, Forbes told Sky News her views on sex before marriage. She said: “It’s entirely up to them. It’s something that I would seek to avoid for me personally.
“But it doesn’t fuss me, it doesn’t put me up nor down. The choices that other people make is [up to them]. In terms of my faith, my faith would say that sex is for marriage and that’s the approach that I would practice.”
The Finance Secretary added that she would respect the opinions of others who do not share her faith. She added: “For me, it would be wrong according to my faith, but for you I have no idea what your faith is. So, in a free society you can do what you want.”
What did Kate Forbes say about abortion?
Forbes has said that she is committed to ensuring women are safe from harrassment in and around clinics when attending abortion appointments. Yousaf and Ragen have committed to enforcing 150-meter buffer zones around clinics in which protests will not be able to take place.
She said: “I would say that I certainly don’t think that women going for an abortion should be subjected to fear and harassment. And so, I’d be willing to work with Gillian Mackay who is introducing the Bill.”
What did Kate Forbes say about gender reform?
Forbes was on maternity leave at the time of the final vote on the gender reform bill in December 2022. However, she has said that she would not have voted for the legistion in its current form.
Forbes explained: “My concerns about self-ID have been well documented and I would have continued to have those concerns about self-ID. It’s very difficult to talk hypothetically when it comes to a Bill but I think I would have struggled to support that self-ID element of the Gender Recognition Act.”
Had she been present for the vote, Forbes would have been looking at being removed as Finance Secretary for going against the party line.