The UK Equalities Minister Has Defended Kate Forbes Over Her Anti-Gay Marriage Views

Kemi Badenoch said the SNP leadership hopeful was right to express her controversial opinion.
Kemi Badenoch has defended Kate Forbes's right to express her views.
Kemi Badenoch has defended Kate Forbes's right to express her views.
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The UK equalities minister has defended SNP leadership hopeful Kate Forbes amid the growing controversy over her anti-gay marriage views.

Kemi Badenoch praised Forbes for refusing to be “dishonest” about her religious beliefs.

Forbes, who is in the running to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and Scottish fist minister, sparked a backlash on her first day of campaigning when she said she would have voted against gay marriage when it was made legal almost a decade ago.

The 32-year-old, who is a member of the Free Presbyterian Church, also said having children outside of marriage is “wrong”.

Her comments have led to criticism from other SNP politicians, while a number of her supporters have withdrawn their backing for her leadership bid.

But asked about her comments last night, Badenoch, who spent part of her childhood in Nigeria, refused to join in the chorus of criticism.

Speaking to Politico, she said: “I’m not a particularly religious person, but I do understand it because I didn’t grow up in this country, I grew up in a very religious country, so I do understand what it means to people and how it can impact the way that they live their lives.

“To stop people from saying what they really feel, I think, is overly draconian and I actually admire her for not being dishonest.

“It would be very easy for her to tell lies just so that she can win that election, and she is not doing that, and I think that is something that people need to take into account.”

Asked whether she would condemn Forbes’s comments, Badenoch said: “No. I will say that I personally support same sex marriage. I think it’s disappointing if people don’t.

“But I would not want people to condemn me for having personal views. Disagree with the views, debate the views, but if you are asking me to condemn someone for their religious views, then you do not understand what the minister of equalities’ role is.

“I am the guardian of the Equality Act. Freedom of religion is one of the protected characteristics. To ask me to criticise someone for their religious beliefs when I’m supposed to be safeguarding them shows that those people don’t understand equality.

“What they want is to use the Equality Act as a sword to fight their own personal battles, rather than a shield to protect others from discrimination.”

Meanwhile, Forbes has hit back at her critics - and insisted she will not be pulling out of the SNP leadership contest.

She said: “Have we become so illiberal that we cannot have these discussions? Because if some people are beyond the pale then those are dark and dangerous days for Scotland. I think this campaign will draw that out.”


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