SNP’s Kate Forbes sparks outrage with views on trans women and conversion therapy

Kate Forbes speaking in Scottish Parliament.

SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes seems to have derailed her campaign by expressing several ultra-conservative views.

Forbes declared her candidacy to replace Nicola Sturgeon on Monday (20 February), and within 24 hours had given a string of interviews sharing her views on same-sex marriage, conversion therapy legislation and trans rights.

Forbes said a trans woman is a “biological male who identifies as a woman”, claimed she would have voted against marriage equality, and said having a child outside of marriage is “wrong” according to her Christian beliefs – all while claiming her regressive views could co-exist among other, more progressive ones.

When asked about conversion therapy, the SNP candidate said that while she was against “coercion”, she believes “equally we should defend the rights of other minorities like people of faith, as well, when it comes to their freedom of expression, their freedom of speech and their freedom of practice”.

Forbes said that when it comes to having children outside of marriage, “my faith would say that sex is for marriage and that’s the approach that I would practice”.

“For me, it would be wrong according to my faith, but for you, I have no idea what your faith is, so in a free society you can do what you want,” she added.

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The SNP minister claimed that, despite her outdated views, she would not attempt to repeal LGBTQ+ rights due to a belief in a “pluralistic and tolerant society.”

Forbes’ views have caused several key backers to rescind their support for her leadership campaign, according to the BBC.

However, she appears unfazed by the controversy. When asked whether her campaign was irreparably damaged, she told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “Absolutely not.”

“We have a large part membership, most of whom are not on Twitter, and I understand that people have very strong views on these matters,” Forbes said.

“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.”

She went on to apologise for her comments on same-sex marriage, telling ITV News: “I unequivocally apologise for any hurt and offence that has been caused. 

“I absolutely defend people’s right in this country to marry, as they’ve been able to do for the past nine years.”

Kate Forbes speaking during an event.
Kate Forbes is one of three frontrunners for the SNP leadership position. (Getty)

Forbes announced her leadership campaign for leader of the SNP party and Scottish first minister on Monday (20 February).

She is one of three MSPs to have declared their candidacy, along with Humza Yousaf and Ash Regan.

Tories respond to Kate Forbes’ views on LGBTQ+ rights and marriage

Prime minister Rishi Sunak was asked about Forbes’ comments and said he was “hugely proud” of the diversity and tolerance in the UK.

However, he added: “It’s fundamentally a decision for members of political parties to decide who leads them.”

Former secretary of state William Hague claimed that Forbes wouldn’t be elected as Conservative leader given her views.

He said that same-sex marriage has become “part of the culture” in the UK, and that Forbes’ views wouldn’t slide.

“People will be concerned about future decisions… there can be threats to what was decided before,” he said.

“You can’t just say, ‘Oh, hands up, I was against it but now I just accept the democratic verdict.'”