Kate Forbes has said she would not have voted for the Scottish Government’s gender recognition legislation in its current form.
The SNP leadership contender, who is on maternity leave from her role as finance secretary, said she didn’t think the UK Government’s blocking of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill should be challenged in court.
“I don’t think that we should challenge the Section 35 in court because I think the public want us to focus on things like the NHS, on making the case for independence, on the cost of living crisis, not on another court challenge, but I would engage with the UK Government to look at how we amend the bill further,” she told STV News.
Responding to questions about concerns of how progressive she is, Forbes said no office should be removed from any candidate on the basis of protected characteristics, including faith.
“I think there’s a way to square my faith as well as my membership and leadership of the SNP and that includes things like having to love my neighbour,” she said.
Nicola Sturgeon’s Government passed the reforms that would make it easier for people to gain a gender recognition certificate with cross-party support in Holyrood.
But the UK Government blocked the Bill from becoming law, citing its impact on UK-wide equalities legislation, triggering a constitutional dispute which Sturgeon said was likely to go to court.
Questions have been raised on how Forbes’ beliefs as a member of the Free Church of Scotland would impact on the policies of her party if she wins.
The 32-year-old was asked where she stood on abortion buffer zones.
“I think all women that are going for terminations, many of them emotionally vulnerable women, should do so free from harassment and harm,” she said.
“I think it’s a question of engaging with the Green MSP Gillian Mackay, who’s taking forward that bill, engaging with her so that we have a balanced bill that does tackle harassment, but is also targeted.”
Health secretary Humza Yousaf launched his bid to succeed Sturgeon on Monday, joining former minister Ash Regan in the race for the top job.
He said he “was not wedded” to the idea of using the next general election as a “de-facto” referendum on Scottish independence.
Yousaf also insisted whoever had been Scotland’s health secretary would have been unable to prevent skyrocketing waiting times as the NHS emerged from the Covid pandemic.