Two anti-LGBT rights supporters run for Scottish Parliament top job

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Scottish Parliament has elected a new presiding officer, as two anti-LGBT rights candidates ran for the job.

Murdo Fraser and Elaine Smith, who actively opposed same-sex marriage, appeared on the ballot alongside Ken MacIntosh, Johann Lamont and John Scott.

West of Scotland MSP Mr MacIntosh won the ballot after three rounds, beating the Tory’s Mr Fraser and Labour’s Johann Lamont. He will now give up his Labour membership as part of the new role.

Elaine Smith, the former Labour MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston who lost her constituency seat, opposed marriage equality and threw her hat in the ring for the job that is equivalent to Westminster’s Speaker.

It was reported that the now Central Scotland list MSP, held meetings in her former constituency with anti-LGBT campaigners and used this as a justification for her personal opposition to the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014.

In a response to a constituent, she also said she would do what her priest instructed her to.

Murdo Fraser, who represents Mid Scotland and Fife, came second in the ballot to take parliament’s top job with 31 votes.

Throughout the introduction of marriage equality, he consistently argued for anti-LGBT amendments to legislation. In effect, at times, he argued for a conscience clause by asking the Scottish Government to request an amendment to the Equality Act 2010, to ensure that “the protected characteristic of religion or belief, support for the current definition of marriage”.

A secret ballot was held among MSP that went through several stages until one candidate received a majority.

Ms Smith was eliminated in the first round and John Scott in the second. The other three candidates made it to the third round where Mr MacIntosh received a majority.

Outgoing presiding officer, Tricia Marwick, oversaw the election of her replacement.

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to be re-elected as First Minister in a session of parliament, early next week.

She has pledged to transform trans rights as many of the other party leader also backed improvements to gender and identity legislation.