SNP hopeful Kate Forbes believes her Christian faith received ‘stunning level of scrutiny’ 

SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes

Scottish National Party leadership candidate Kate Forbes told Laura Kuenssberg that her Christian beliefs have seen “quite a stunning level of scrutiny and perhaps backlash from some quarters” as a result of her decision to be upfront about what she believes. 

Appearing on Kuenssberg’s flagship BBC One politics show on Sunday (19 March), Kate Forbes was questioned about whether she feels she has been “treated differently as someone with a strong Christian faith” during the SNP leadership contest. 

Kate Forbes, who is one of three candidates in the running to be SNP leader and Scotland’s new first minister following Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation in February, has faced criticism throughout the contest for her views on same-sex marriage and trans rights reform, and concerning record on LGBTQ+ and abortion rights.

Within the first 24 hours of her leadership campaign, Forbes sparked controversy by revealing that she would not have voted in favour of same-sex marriage if she had been an MSP at the time. 

She has also come under fire for suggesting that conversion therapy – a practice often described as a form of torture – could be a “choice”. She said she would “look carefully” at a ban on conversion practices.

Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Scottish Green Party, was quick to condemn her comments, saying: “There is no such thing as a non-coercive conversion practice and never can be.

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“Anyone who argues that people should be able to consent to this form of abuse is clearly failing to understand the issue.”

Voters ‘deserve to know who they’re voting for’

When asked about whether she had been treated differently, Forbes replied that there had been “far more scrutiny of my faith as a Christian” and suggested that it was due to an approach of “honesty and candour”.

“Voters deserve to know who they’re voting for,” she stated, and reiterated that this decision had “resulted in greater scrutiny than would otherwise have been the case”.

When pressed by Kuenssberg on whether Forbes feels she has been “punished” for saying what she believes, Forbes replied: “I think there has been quite a stunning level of scrutiny and perhaps backlash from some quarters.

“I won’t be the only person with faith in high office,” she continued, before highlighting that Britain has a “Muslim mayor of London” and a “Hindu in No 10”.

She went on to state that “people of faith have the right to occupy high office”.

Forbes was then asked what she would say to a member of the LGBTQ+ community who can’t bring themselves to vote for someone who believes that their relationship and the way they live my life is wrong. 

She replied: “I would say, I give you an honest pledge today to govern in a way that delivers for you, that does not in any way undermine your rights and actually seeks to enhance your opportunities in Scotland, to ensure that Scotland is truly that tolerant and pluralistic nation that we all want to see.”

This week’s edition of Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg also featured chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Dowden, shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy, and a panel composed of PoliticsJoe’s Oli Dugmore, Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts and businessman Brent Hoberman.

Voting for the SNP leadership election closes on 27 March.