Kate Forbes sets fire to campaign just hours after announcing bid

Kate Forbes explains her position on gay marriage

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Kate Forbes tonight sparked a row after saying she would have voted against gay marriage. Scotland’s Finance Secretary, a frontrunner to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and Scottish First Minister, said she would not have backed the legislation at the time it was passed almost a decade ago.

But Ms Forbes – who is a member of the Free Church of Scotland – added that she would have “respected and defended the democratic choice that was made”.

Equal marriage was made legal in Scotland in 2014 by 105 votes to 18, while Ms Forbes was not elected to Holyrood until 2016.

A row has erupted over her comments, which come just hours after she became the third candidate to enter the SNP leadership race earlier today.

Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said Ms Forbes had “set fire” to her leadership bid with her remarks.

Ms Davidson tweeted: “(Obviously) I’m not an in-depth student of the SNP membership, but I’m pretty sure that, with this, Kate Forbes has just set fire to her leadership campaign on the very same day as she launched it.”

Ms Forbes, who is currently on maternity leave after giving birth to her first child last year, is also facing a backlash from within the SNP.

SNP MSP Paul O’Kane said: “I sit across from Kate Forbes every week. My marriage isn’t up for debate.

“These rights were hard fought for and hard won for me and hundreds of others across Scotland.

“They are celebrated by our allies, families and friends. Our First Minister must stand up for them.”

SNP MP Stewart McDonald added: “Kate Forbes is entitled to her views on same-sex marriage – an issue close to my heart that I disagree with her on.

“It’s not enough to say that there will be no rolling back, we need a First Minister who will govern for LGBT people and who understands our anxieties and ambitions.”

And another SNP MP, Hannah Bardell, added: “I would have hoped that given Kate has so many friends, including myself, who are LGBTQ and hold her and her talents in such high regard, she might have tempered them or at least considered her response a little more carefully.”

Ms Forbes’ public views on equal marriage come after she said she would not have voted for the Scottish Government’s controversial gender reform legislation, which was later blocked by the UK Government.

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.

But a senior SNP figure told Express.co.uk: “It has to be Kate [Forbes]. For starters she will stop all the nonsense about gender recognition and will get us back to sensible policies.

“The other thing is that the Greens will walk away from their coalition with us [over LGBT issues] which will also be great news.

“We seem to have been the junior partner in this coalition allowing their mad social policies when we are the much bigger party.”

Politics expert Matt Goodwin said: “On opposing same-sex marriage Kate Forbes is very much in the minority but on questioning the gender reform bill she is not. Only 20-22 percent of Scots openly supported the Gender Reform Bill, as did only just over one-third of SNP voters. The overwhelming majority did not back it.”

Speaking to The Scotsman, Ms Forbes said she would not have supported equal marriage as a “matter of conscience” if she had been a member of parliament at the time.

She cited the example of Germany’s Angela Merkel as a leader who voted on the matter “with her conscience”.

Ms Forbes 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.”

Meanwhile, Ms Forbes has also condemned the “illiberal discourse” around her Christian faith and how her religious views could impact her decisions as First Minister.

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