SNP leadership candidate Humza Yousaf promises to make Scotland an 'international leader in human rights' if elected

SNP leadership contender Humza Yousaf has said he will make Scotland an "international leader in human rights" if he becomes the country's next first minister. 

The candidate said he would push forward the Scottish Government's human rights bill if elected.

It would incorporate United National human rights treaties on discrimination against women, racial discrimination, the rights of people with disabilities, and economic, social and cultural rights into Scots law, he said.

He said an independent Scotland would enshrine these rights in full and he would do everything in his power to "protect and advance the rights of people in Scotland" if given the party's top job.

Mr Yousaf, Scotland's health secretary, also promised to ban conversion therapy and embed LGBT rights into an independent Scotland's constitution.

He is running against the country's finance secretary Kate Forbes and former community safety minister Ash Regan in the race to replace Nicola Sturgeon.

"Advancing human rights has been a key success story of the SNP in government - from a social security system with respect and dignity at its heart to advancing LGBT equality, we have a track record to be proud of," he said.

"But we cannot afford to rest on our laurels - I am the candidate in this contest that has pledged my unequivocal support in advancing people's rights.

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"The Tories are clearly itching to rob people in Scotland of their rights at the first opportunity as they look to scrap the Human Rights Act which enshrines so many of the important rights we enjoy today," he continued.

"As first minister, I will do everything in my power to protect and advance the rights of people in Scotland - and make the case for the full powers of independence which will allow us to go even further, keeping our human rights out of the hands of Westminster for good."

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A spokesperson for the UK's Ministry of Justice said: "The UK government was elected on a manifesto that committed to updating the Human Rights Act to ensure there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government - that is what we are doing."

Mr Yousaf's pledges come after former first minister Alex Salmond said the leadership hopeful skipped a key vote on gay marriage due to "religious pressure".

The health secretary said he had a "different recollection" of events surrounding the 2014 vote.

On Sunday, leadership candidate Ash Regan backed Mr Salmond's call to block sending Scotland's historic Stone of Destiny to Westminster Abbey for King Charles's coronation in May.

Meanwhile, Kate Forbes pitched herself as a "first minister for a new decade" saying continuity from Ms Sturgeon's leadership "won't cut it".