.Mhairi Black and Kate Forbes
The SNP civil war has intensified as a senior MP hit out at party leadership contender Kate Forbes over her comments on gay marriage.
Mhairi Black, SNP deputy Westminster leader, said allowing religion to dictate how to vote on policy is a display of “intolerance”.
As she kicked off her campaign earlier this week to succeed Nicola Sturgeon, Forbes said she would not have voted in favour of legislation to legalise same-sex marriage in 2014 had she been an MSP at the time.
In the days that followed, she faced a backlash over the comments and lost some of her most high-profile backers.
She released a statement on the controversy on Thursday, saying she had been “burdened” by the hurt she had caused and assuring Scots she does not want to roll back equal marriage laws.
A lot of people have asked me my views of the leadership contest. Truthfully, I have been incredibly hurt so far. Hurt originating with the statements @_KateForbes has made and since stood by. I, like most people in Scotland, could not care less about someone’s religion. (1/10)
— Mhairi Black MP🏳️🌈 (@MhairiBlack) February 24, 2023
But just hours after Forbes, Ash Regan and Humza Yousaf were confirmed as candidates in the leadership race, Black – who married her wife last year – said she was “incredibly hurt” by Forbes’s position.
She wrote on Twitter: “A lot of people have asked me my views of the leadership contest. Truthfully, I have been incredibly hurt so far.
“Hurt originating with the statements @_KateForbes has made and since stood by. I, like most people in Scotland, could not care less about someone’s religion.
“If your faith says you cannot drink alcohol, then don’t. If your religion says you cannot enter same sex marriage, then don’t. If your religion does not allow for abortion, then do not have one.
“However, the moment you use your religion to justify voting against me having access to any of the above, then it is you who is showing intolerance.
“What you practice in your own time, and how you subscribe to live your life, is your business, but as a lawmaker, if you choose to allow your religion to try and deny me my basic human rights, then you make it my business.”
Some politicians have stepped in to call for an end to the criticism of the Scottish finance secretary over her comments, with MP and SNP rebel Joanna Cherry urging senior figures in the party to “call off the dogs”.
Forbes herself condemned the “illiberal discourse” around her faith.
But Black rubbished the claims.
“The idea that Kate is being ‘persecuted’, or that there is a ‘witch hunt’ or ‘unionist media plot’ against her is utterly fanciful at best and a dangerous conspiracy theory at worst,” she said.
“Holding candidates to account, and scrutinising what they have said themselves – on camera, voluntarily, as a pitch to be the next FM of Scotland – is not abuse.”
Black went on to say how she and others can support a leader who believes her marriage should not be legally recognised is “beyond me”.
She added: “Kate hasn’t just jeopardised a lot of activists and members, she has alienated swathes of the population before she’s even started.
“We need, and should expect, better judgement, communication, and leadership skills if we are to ever convince others of independence.”