Kate Forbes in Government takes Scotland back to 1950s, says Patrick Harvie

The deputy first minister has previously said she would have voted against same-sex marriage.

Patrick Harvie has accused First Minister John Swinney of taking the country back to the “repressive values of the 1950s” by making Kate Forbes his deputy.

The Scottish Greens co-leader, who is bisexual, suggested the FM’s second in charge had made LGBT people in Scotland worry that their human rights are at risk.

Forbes has previously said she would have voted against same-sex marriage.

Harvie said the new deputy first minister has expressed judgmental attitudes on abortion as well as those who have sex out of wedlock.

The Green MSP was a Scottish minister, alongside his co-leader Lorna Slater, until two weeks ago when then-first minister Humza Yousaf sacked him while ending their power-sharing agreement.

Swinney succeeded him as SNP leader on Monday and as First Minister on Tuesday.

He selected Forbes as his deputy, leading to criticism from some MSPs.

During the SNP leadership election last year, Forbes – a member of the Free Church of Scotland – expressed a number of conservative social views, saying she would have voted against equal marriage and that for her, according to her faith, having children outside of marriage would be wrong.

However, Forbes said she would not seek to change the law on abortion. Her allies also point to her support for abortion buffer zones.

During his inaugural First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Swinney was asked whether Forbes’ promotion represented a lurch to the right for the Scottish Government and put LGBT people at risk.

Harvie said: “The Scottish Greens have been clear we acknowledge the SNP’s right to form a minority government but we have been equally clear that the First Minster must quickly give a signal on the direction his government will take.

“Yesterday that signal came pretty clearly: progressive ministers sacked and the second most powerful job in government given to someone who has opposed LGBT peoples’ legal equality, who has expressed judgemental attitudes against abortion and has even expressed the view that people that have families without being married are doing something wrong.

“Is this the Scottish government’s vision for the future of Scotland, taking us back to the repressive values of the 1950s?”

Swinney responded: “No it’s not and it’s not the direction of the Scottish Government.

“The Government will be led from the moderate, centre-left position that I have always occupied and that has always been the policy position of my party, and that has been supported by all of our members.

“I set out last Thursday when I announced my candidacy for my party that I wanted to build on the work of the SNP government to create a modern, diverse and dynamic Scotland that will ensure opportunity for all of her citizens.

“And on Tuesday I made it clear to the people of Scotland in the closing words of my speech of acceptance that I offer myself to be the First Minister for everyone in Scotland and that is precisely what I will do.”

Harvie said he did not think the First Minister “understands just how worried many LGBT people, and others, are in Scotland at the moment”.

He added: “But this is not only about equality and human rights that are at stake here.

“The deputy first minister has also explicitly criticised the role of fairer, progressive taxation.

“Making sure people on high incomes pay their fair share is the only way the Scottish Government has been able to afford investment in climate and nature, cheaper public transport or the Scottish Child Payment.”

Harvie asked if Swinney would “give in to the right wing of his party”.

The FM said that “as a matter of history and record” it was Forbes who was responsible for introducing progressive taxes in Scotland when she was finance secretary, which the Greens supported at the time.

“I think it’s pretty clear that Kate Forbes has delivered progressive taxation”.

After FMQs, Forbes told journalists: “I am here to support the First Minister and together we serve all communities in Scotland as we further and progress the rights of every community in Scotland, and I look forward to doing my part in achieving the Government’s aims in that regard.

“Not just that, but when I joined Government yesterday in a clear role to support the First Minister, I signed up to collective responsibility, so I stand by the Government’s decisions and agenda to improve and progress the rights of all of Scotland’s communities.”

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