Forbes kicks off bid to lead Scotland, would have opposed gay marriage
(This Feb. 20 story has been refiled to correct a typo in paragraph 3)
By Muvija M
LONDON (Reuters) - Scottish finance minister Kate Forbes on Monday became the latest candidate hoping to replace Nicola Sturgeon as the country's first minister, but her stance on gay marriage upset some in her own party.
Forbes, a 32-year-old Christian belonging to the governing Scottish National Party (SNP), was elected to parliament in 2016 and took office as finance secretary just four years later.
Sturgeon's announcement has jeopardized the SNP's fight for independence as the Westminster government has blocked its attempts to hold a second vote after a 2014 referendum saw Scotland vote 55% to 45% to remain part of the United Kingdom.
Making her pitch for the contest, which will pit her against health minister Humza Yousaf and former minister Ash Regan, Forbes said earlier on Twitter: "I can't sit back and watch our nation thwarted on the road to self-determination."
"We need a leader who's bold, brave and energised, fresh faced and ready for new challenges. Somebody who inspires your confidence as an SNP member, and who inspires the confidence of the people of Scotland to vote for a better future. I am that leader."
Forbes, who studied history at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh, said she would have voted against same-sex marriage in a Channel 4 interview later. Same-sex marriage was legalised in Scotland in 2014.
"Marriage being between a man and a woman, that is what I practise," she said.
Forbes also said she would not have voted for the government's gender reform bill, which makes it easier for people to change their legal gender, in its current form.
Sturgeon herself was embroiled in a row over transgender rights over the divisive bill, which was eventually passed in December but has since been blocked by the British government.
"I don't support self-ID .. I think there is scope to revisit the bill. We need to make it a less onerous process but that is going to require a grown-up debate and discussion with the UK Government," Forbes told Channel 4.
Forbes, a fluent Gaelic speaker who worked as an accountant in the banking industry before entering parliament, explained in an interview to the Scotsman newspaper that she would have opposed gay marriage as "a matter of conscience."
Hannah Bardell, a member of Scottish parliament belonging to the SNP, said on Twitter: "I would have hoped that given Kate has so many friends, including myself, who are LGBTQ and hold her and her talents in such high regard, she might have tempered them or at least considered her response a little more carefully."
"I hope in time she might understand why her views are so difficult for so many of us."
The SNP said it will chose a new leader by March 27.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, Muvija M and Farouq Suleiman; Editing by William James, Elizabeth Piper and Lisa Shumaker)