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by Kirsteen Paterson
23 February 2023
Kate Forbes 'greatly burdened' by same-sex marriage 'hurt'

Kate Forbes 'greatly burdened' by same-sex marriage 'hurt'

Kate Forbes is "greatly burdened" that campaign comments over same-sex marriage have "caused hurt”.

The 32-year-old caused controversy on the first day of her SNP leadership campaign after saying she would not have voted for same-sex marriage.

A number of MSPs and MPs who had backed her then withdrew their support and it emerged that Forbes would seek to "reset" her campaign amidst criticism from colleagues including John Swinney.

In a lengthy statement, she said: "This election is about independence, and who is best equipped, and who has the best plan to achieve it. It is also about the society we want Scotland to be – where tolerance is the ruling ethic, differences are welcomed, fairness is the norm, equality of opportunity is the birth right of every child, poverty becomes history, and the rule of law applies to everyone.

"Every leader’s identity is multifaceted – I am a woman, I am a Highlander, I have a faith. Of all these characteristics, the questions over the last few days have focused on my religious faith. I feel greatly burdened that some of my responses to questions in the media have caused hurt, which was never my intention as I sought to answer questions clearly. 

"I will defend to the hilt the rights of everybody in Scotland, particularly minorities, to live and to love without fear or harassment in a pluralistic and tolerant society. I will uphold the laws that have been hard won, as a servant of democracy, and seek to enhance the rights of everybody to live in a way which enables them to flourish. I firmly believe in the inherent dignity of each human being; that underpins all ethical and political decisions I make."

Nominations for the SNP leadership role close at noon tomorrow. To advance, candidates, who include frontrunner Humza Yousaf and gender recognition reform rebel Ash Regan, must gain the support of at least 100 members from a minimum of 20 branches. 

In a comment aimed at her rivals, Forbes said: "This is election is a moment in Scotland’s history in which our members have to make a momentous decision.  Change but no change will not meet the needs of this time. Change to make a difference is what I am offering."

Pledging to involve party members in policy development, she said she was elected by constituents "in the full knowledge of my faith" and she has "served and represented all my constituents". 

She went on: "We need a raft of policies that would be implemented from day one of independence. Policies that give answers to the main questions we shall be asked by the people. The party making policy through a number of key committees would not exclude ministers, MSPs and MPs, as they have much to contribute. But so have the ordinary members, and it is their hand on policy that I want."

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