Labour MSP Elaine Smith: ‘I’m against equal marriage but don’t call me homophobic’

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Labour MSP Elaine Smith claims she has been subjected to personal attacks after declaring she will vote against Scotland’s same-sex marriage bill.

Speaking at a Scotland for Marriage event – the Scottish anti-gay campaign group against equal marriage – she said: “As a legislator, I intend to vote against this bill and I believe that I am in tune with the wishes of the majority of my constituents.

“I certainly don’t believe that I’m homophobic. However, I have no doubt that I will be made to suffer for my views on this issue and by voting against I will undoubtedly be labelled homophobic.”

Scotland’s Herald newspaper reports Ms Smith has now been denounced by many over her position on Twitter.

“I predicted that in speaking or voting against these proposals, I would undoubtedly be verbally attacked and labelled homophobic. That prediction seems to be coming depressingly true.”

She added: “It is astonishing that a politician cannot represent the views of their constituents without being vilified and subjected to personal attacks.

“Speaking against the redefinition of marriage in modern Scotland, sadly, leads to verbal attacks which seem to be an attempt to try to shut down debate and intimidate opponents.”

Ms Smith, MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston and also Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, argued that existing civil partnerships ensured equality for same-sex couples.

So far only a handful of MSPs have declared their intention to vote against the bill, which is not expected to face a final vote until late next year.

The Equality Network, which has co-ordinated the campaign for marriage equality in Scotland, said the debate should remain respectful.

Director Tim Hopkins said: “Elaine Smith is entitled to her view, but she is wrong on the facts. A large majority of Scots, and an overwhelming majority of LGBT people, supports same-sex marriage. Those who want a same-sex marriage will be able to marry; those who don’t won’t have to, and no church will be required to do them. It’s about freedom of choice for all.”

He added: “This debate should be conducted in a respectful way – something we as an organisation have always done.

“We have not heard of any report of hate crime against people because they oppose equal marriage, but we would urge anyone who experiences any hate crime to report it to the police.”