Kate Forbes favourite to become Scotland’s next first minister, new poll finds

Kate Forbes during a Scottish Parliament hearing.

Kate Forbes is currently the favourite candidate to become the next leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), according to a new poll of voters.

Kate Forbes – who has said she would have voted against same-sex marriage – has the backing of 28% of SNP voters, according to a survey by The Big Partnership.

A third of those polled said they were yet to choose their preferred candidate.

Forbes is one of three candidates in the SNP leadership race, following the departure of current first minister Nicola Sturgeon, having previously received the hundred nominations needed to take the first step in the party’s election process.

Her opponents are Health secretary Humza Yousaf and former community safety minister Ash Regan.

Finance secretary Forbes, who has been the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch since 2016, officially launched her campaign to become Scotland’s new first minister on Monday (20 February). 

You may like to watch

On the same day as announcing her bid, the politician made comments on equal marriage and her religious beliefs which resulted in swift backlash from LGBTQ+ people and resulted in some of her backers withdrawing their support.

The leadership hopeful told Channel 4 News she would not have supported equal marriage as a “matter of conscience” if she had been a member of parliament when the legislation was passed.

“I would have voted, as a matter of conscience, along the lines of mainstream teaching in most major religions that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Forbes said.

“But I would have respected and defended the democratic choice that was made. It is legal right now and I am a servant of democracy, I am not a dictator.”

Same-sex marriage was passed in Scotland in 2014 with an overwhelming majority of 105 to 18.

In a double blow to the LGBTQ+ community, Forbes also told BBC News she has “significant concerns” about self-ID and would not have voted for Scotland’s landmark gender reform bill. 

She also stated she believes “sex is for marriage”, but says it “doesn’t fuss” her what other people do.

As PinkNews previously reported, Forbes has a worrying track record when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights and other issues. 

She is a member of the Free Church of Scotland, a denomination that seeks to reflect “clear Biblical teaching”, and has previously spoken out against abortion.

The church has vocally opposed same-sex marriage, abortion and a ban on conversion therapy.

In 2018, she spoke at a religious event where she delivered a “prayer for the nation”.

“May our politicians recognise that the way we treat the most vulnerable – whether the unborn or the terminally ill – is a measure of true progress,” she said. Her words prompted much criticism.

The church has vocally opposed same-sex marriage, abortion and a ban on conversion therapy.

Speaking to the BBC, Forbes said of her faith: “To be straight, I believe in the person of Jesus Christ. I believe that he died for me, he saved me and that my calling is to serve and to love him and to serve and love my neighbours with all my heart and soul and mind and strength”. 

LGBTQ+ people in Scotland ‘disappointed’ by Kate Forbes’ comments

A Glasgow-based gay man, who’s planning to marry his partner, told PinkNews he’s been left “shocked” and “disappointed” by first minister frontrunner Kate Forbes’ revelation she would have voted against his right to wed.

Killian Riley, who’s also a Scottish National Party activist, told PinkNews that while Forbes’ beliefs were not unexpected – as she has spoken out against abortion and gender-law reforms before – it shows “she’s not an appropriate person to be leading the SNP”. 

“[Her words] make me feel hurt, they are a stark reminder that there is still a decent chunk of our society that doesn’t see my relationship with my partner as equal to that of a straight couple,” he says.

“You know that people do think that, but you often forget that they’re throughout society, not just on the fringes. It stings.”