UK equalities minister Kemi Badenoch defends SNP’s Kate Forbes over anti-gay marriage stance

Kemi Badenoch walking through a street in London.

The UK government’s equalities minister Kemi Badenoch has defended SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes for sharing her belief that same-sex marriage is wrong.

The Tory minister has said Forbes’ believes are worth “safeguarding” after the Scottish MSP shared a number of controversial views on LGBTQ+ rights.

A day after announcing her leadership campaign following Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation, Forbes came under fire for saying trans women are “biological males” and that sex outside of marriage is wrong.

As a result, she has lost several key SNP backers – effectively gutting her leadership campaign.

But Badenoch said to Politico that she believed Kate Forbes had a right to express her anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments.

After stressing her own support for same-sex marriage, she said that it was “sad” that Forbes was being criticised because Badenoch believes in “freedom of conscience”.

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“That’s one of the things that makes this country great,” the equalities minister said.

“It’d be very easy for her to tell lies, just so that she could win that election, and she’s not doing that.

“I think that’s something people need to take into account.”

She refused to condemn Forbes’ beliefs, saying that she would not want people to condemn her for having “personal views”.

An image of Kate Forbes in a red blazer.
Kate Forbes was heavily criticised for her views on LGBTQ+ rights. (Getty)

During a day of rigorous questioning on her religious background, Kate Forbes routinely emphasised that her beliefs would not have an effect on existing legislation.

While she attempted to explain that transgender people could somehow co-exist with people that believe they don’t exist, several SNP members began to rescind their support.

An anonymous SNP politician told PinkNews that several party members were “aware” of her “personal belief system”.

“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.”

But Kemi Badenoch reportedly told journalists she believes those criticizing Forbes simply “don’t understand equality“.

“What they want is to use the Equality Act as a sword to fight their own personal battles, rather than as a shield to prevent others from discrimination.”

Forbes is one of three candidates to have bid for the position of Scotland’s first minister – the other two being Ash Regan and Humza Yousaf.

In response to the controversy, Ash Regan told a journalist “love is love” before hurrying away.