Kate Forbes would ‘kill the SNP’ and ‘risk government collapse’, members and activists warn

Kate Forbes

Kate Forbes has “torpedoed her own campaign” for the SNP leadership by expressing her views on same-sex marriage, LGBTQ+ party members have said.

Forbes is among the three declared candidates in the SNP leadership race – she’s battling it out against Ash Regan and Humza Yousaf to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as first minister.

However, her campaign looked to be in turmoil on Tuesday (21 February) after she shared her stance on issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion and having children outside of marriage.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Forbes admitted what many LGBTQ+ party members already suspected – that she views marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Forbes’ insistence that she wouldn’t roll back any rights that already exist in Scotland did little to quell the growing backlash – many were quick to declare her campaign was dead in the water as key backers jumped ship.

Among LGBTQ+ party members, the mood is one of quiet relief that Forbes has effectively ended her own campaign by publicly stating her views.

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Kate Forbes pictured during a Ministerial Statement by Mr Mackayon in the Scottish Parliament.
Kate Forbes pictured during a Ministerial Statement by Mr Mackayon in the Scottish Parliament. (Ken Jack/Getty)

“All of us were aware that this was part of her personal belief system,” one SNP member, who asked not to be named, told PinkNews.

“There is a feeling within the LGBT membership of, we tried to tell you this is what she was and you didn’t listen to us. There’s some schadenfreude.

“She’s saying things like, ‘this is just a storm on Twitter and the real membership supports me’, but the SNP has built itself on using good governance as the road to independence – showing what we can build. 

“The point of the SNP is to demonstrate the fairer, more progressive Scotland we can deliver with independence. People who care about independence care about independence for women and LGBT people too. 

“She has torpedoed her own campaign.”

LGBTQ+ SNP members will leave the party if Kate Forbes wins

That’s echoed by Amber Roberts, a trans SNP member – she says those in the party who were willing to give Kate Forbes the benefit of the doubt will now see clearly what her views are.

Kate Forbes pictured with Nicola Sturgeon in the background. The background of the image has been edited so the pair are pictured against a Scottish flag.
Kate Forbes could spell trouble for LGBTQ+ people. (Getty)

“There’s a lot of LGBTQ+ people in Scotland and one of the things I remember when equal marriage came into law was everybody around me celebrating – thousands of people celebrating that they could finally get married,” Roberts says.

“Now I see those same people going: ‘The SNP brought in [same-sex marriage] and now you don’t care about it?’”

Roberts believes it’s highly unlikely Forbes or Ash Regan – who resigned her ministerial post in protest against gender recognition reform – will win the leadership, but if either of them was to become the party’s next leader she would be forced to take swift action.

“In the unlikely event that Ash Regan or Kate Forbes becomes leader of the SNP I will quit the party,” she says, adding that many other LGBTQ+ people would follow suit.

“There’s a feeling that it would kill the party.”

Kate Forbes outlines details of the Scottish Government Budget for 2020/21.
Kate Forbes outlines details of the Scottish Government Budget for 2020/21. (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament via Getty)

Heather Herbert, an LGBTQ+ rights activist and Green Party member, says Forbes’ views on same-sex marriage would have been seen as entirely legitimate just a few short years ago – but it’s getting harder for politicians to convince the wider public that such views are worthy of respect.

“Scotland is a more progressive country than the rest of the UK, and Forbes’s position is increasingly a minority and unpopular position one,” Herbert says.

“If elected, she risks splitting the SNP and collapsing the Scottish government on day one.”

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