UK political leaders’ views on gay marriage, from Rishi Sunak to Keir Starmer
Kate Forbes, Scottish National Party leadership contender, has been criticised for her views on same-sex marriage.
Ms Forbes, who is hoping to replace First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, has said that she would have voted against the equal marriage act.
However, she said that if she were successful in her leadership bid, she would not overturn Scotland’s gay marriage laws.
She insisted that: “Equal marriage is a legal right, and as a servant of democracy, rather than a dictator, I absolutely respect and defend that democratic right.”
So how does Ms Forbes’ view on gay marriage compare to other UK political leaders?
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has never voted on same-sex marriage nor on equal gay rights, as he became an MP in 2015 (two years after the 2013 vote) and was absent from votes relating to Northern Ireland in 2019, according to TheyWorkForYou.
Outgoing First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon supported legislation on same-sex marriage, which became legal in Scotland in December 2014.
In 2014, Sturgeon wrote an article for Pink News in which she said: “Another proud day was when I was one of the MSPs who, in February 2014, voted to legalise same-sex marriage in Scotland by an overwhelming 105 votes to 18 in the Scottish Parliament.
“This sent a powerful message to people about the kind of country we are.”
She said: “It is right and proper that couples should be able to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation, and have the opportunity to experience the kind of happiness I did on my wedding day.”
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford joined LGBTQ+ activists at the Pride Cymru Parade in 2019, becoming the first serving first minister to do so.
Ahead of the parade, he said: “I am proud to be an ally of LGBTQ+ people across Wales and to march by your side.
“Pride is not just a celebration, it is an essential reminder that progress isn’t inevitable. It must be fought for by us all.”
He said: “Together, we will build a Wales where LGBTQ+ people are accepted without exception.”
Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer has consistently voted for equal rights and backed a vote supporting same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland in 2019.
In 2020, the Labour leader said he supported LGBT+ Labour’s pledges and said: “I stand in full solidarity with our LGBT+ members and the wider community, will defend LGBT+ rights and protections, and campaign with you for the changes rightly prioritised here.”
In 2021, Sir Keir was criticised for visiting a church whose pastor is against same-sex marriage. He later apologised, saying: “I completely disagree with Jesus House’s beliefs on LGBT+ rights, which I was not aware of before my visit.
“I apologise for the hurt my visit caused and have taken down the video. It was a mistake and I accept that.”
Lib Dem leader Ed Davey has consistently voted in favour of same-sex marriage and has championed trans rights. In 2019, he said: “Proud to support @ShapeHistory’s campaign to extend same-sex marriage to the whole UK. We must stand up for equality across our country.”
50 years after the UK's first Pride march, our society has come a long way on equality, dignity and respect for LGBT+ people. We’ve abolished Section 28, ended the blood donation ban, and introduced same-sex marriage. But there’s more to do, so we march on.
— Ed Davey (@EdwardJDavey) July 1, 2022
In July 2022, he said on Twitter: “50 years after the UK’s first Pride march, our society has come a long way on equality, dignity and respect for LGBT+ people.
“We’ve abolished Section 28, ended the blood donation ban, and introduced same-sex marriage. But there’s more to do, so we march on.”