Friday, 21 Jun 2024

Kemi Badenoch defends Kate Forbes for ‘honesty’ over gay marriage

Kate Forbes explains her position on gay marriage

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Kemi Badenoch has come out in defence of SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes, saying she “admires” the politician for being honest. This came after Ms Forbes said she would not have voted for gay marriage. Coming out in support of the SNP hopeful, Ms Badenoch said: “I actually admire her for not being dishonest.”

She added: “It’s very easy for her to tell lies, just so that she could win that election. And she’s not doing that.”

Ms Badenoch – who is Business Secretary and Equalities Minister – was defending Ms Forbes after she said in an interview that she would have voted against gay marriage had she been a member of the Scottish Parliament at the time.

She said would not seek to overturn it if she becomes Scotland’s first minister.

Speaking about Ms Forbes’ comments at a Politico event last night, Ms Badenoch said: “I think that is sad because I believe in freedom of conscience

“That’s one of the things that makes this country great. It’s one of the reasons why many people want to live here.”

Pressed on whether she would condemn Ms Forbes’ views on gay marriage, she said: “No. I personally support same-sex marriage.

“I think it’s disappointing if people don’t agree with me, but I would not want people to condemn me for having personal views.”

Ms Forbes’ campaign to become the leader of the SNP has imploded after her views gained publicity.

She has lost a number of high profile supporters in the wake of her comments, with Scottish government ministers Richard Lochhead, Tom Arthur and Clare Haughey having withdrawn their support for Ms Forbes.

Health committee convener Gillian Martin and MP Drew Hendry have also withdrawn support from her campaign.

Ms Forbes a member of the Free Church of Scotland, also said that having children outside of marriage is “wrong” according to her faith.

Speaking to the BBC, the SNP politician denied her campaign had been irreparably damaged by the controversy.

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The Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP said: “Absolutely not. We have a large party membership, most of whom are not on Twitter, and I understand that people have very strong views on these matters.

“I think the public are longing for politicians to answer straight questions with straight answers and that’s certainly what I tried to do in the media yesterday. That doesn’t necessarily allow for much nuance.”

But a senior member of her own campaign team told The Scotsman that “she has f***ed it” with her comments on gay marriage.

She is one of three confirmed candidates in the leadership contest, alongside Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and former community safety minister Ash Regan.

Ms Regan quit her Government position over the Scottish government’s gender self-identification reforms.

Fellow leadership candidate Mr Yousaf cast a dividing line between himself and Ms Forbes, saying leaders should not use their faith as a basis for legislation.

He told Times Radio: “I couldn’t come on your programme and tell you that I’m able to change what Islam says about gay marriage, or gay sex or what the mainstream Islamic view is, I couldn’t, I would be lying to your viewers if I said, everybody will know what the position on mainstream Islam in that respect is.

“But the question is, do people use the basis of their faith as legislating? I haven’t done so, I wouldn’t do so because I don’t believe that’s the job of legislators or policymakers.

“I believe in a Scotland that celebrates differences, celebrates diversity, celebrates equality. I’ve been a minority my whole life in this country, I know that my rights are interdependent on everybody else’s rights, you begin to chip away or regress people’s rights, then you do that to my rights too.

“So I’m somebody who very firmly believes in progression and my track record and supporting issues of equality, including issues that affect our LGBT community are well known.”

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