SNP Leadership Hopeful Kate Forbes Says She Would Have Voted Against Gay Marriage

Scotland's finance secretary would not have supported equal marriage as a “matter of conscience”.
Kate Forbes delivering her budget at the Scottish parliament.
Kate Forbes delivering her budget at the Scottish parliament.
Robert Perry via Getty Images

SNP leadership hopeful Kate Forbes says she would have voted against gay marriage in Scotland when it was made legal almost a decade ago.

The finance secretary, one of the favourites to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as party leader and Scotland’s first minister, told The Scotsman she would not have backed equal marriage “as a matter of conscience”.

She added she would not look to reverse the decision if she took over from Sturgeon.

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

Forbes, who has been on maternity leave and away from frontline politics since early summer last year, cited the example of Angela Merkel as a leader who voted on the matter “with her conscience”.

She added: “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.”

She later made similar comment to Channel 4 News, stating she would not “row back” on the law.

Forbes has also she said she would not have voted for the Scottish government’s 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.

She was one of 15 SNP politicians who publicly called on her party to delay the controversial proposals which make it easier for transgender people to self-identify as their chosen gender.

Forbes also condemned the “illiberal discourse” around her faith and how her religious views could impact her decisions as first minister.

She is a member of the Free Church of Scotland and had previously said her faith did not impact her ability to serve as an MSP.

After giving her views on gay marriage, the Scottish health secretary and SNP leadership candidate Humza Yousaf said he would not legislate on the basis of his faith.

Speaking on Tonight with Andrew Marr on LBC on Monday, Yousaf said: “I’m a supporter of equal marriage.

“Let me get to the crux of the issue that you’re asking me. I’m a Muslim. I’m somebody who’s proud of my faith. I’ll be fasting during Ramadan in a few weeks’ time.

“But what I don’t do is, I don’t use my faith as a basis of legislation. What I do as a representative, as a leader, as a member of the Scottish parliament is my job is to bring forward policy and pursue it in the best interest of the country.”


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