Former SNP leadership hopeful Kate Forbes says she is heartened by the support she achieved in her bid to become First Minister of Scotland, despite the repeated attacks she faced for holding Christian views.
“I was amazed and heartened by the backlash to the backlash. I received support from people who disagree with me on every single front,” she told an online event for the think tank Reform Scotland, titled 'No-platforming versus Freedom of Speech'.
The Scottish National Party MSP experienced early backers dropping out in the first week of her leadership campaign when she openly said she would have voted against gay marriage. Forbes also declared that she would not have had children outside of wedlock.
Speaking in the debate alongside SNP MP Joanna Cherry, whose gender-critical views resulted in an Edinburgh Fringe venue de-platforming her last month, Kate Forbes said that it was "very dangerous for democracy" that her supporters backed out over fear of harassment.
"I was really struck during my own situation, that those who knew my views and came out instinctively in support of me and then withdrew support, were fearful of being hounded themselves in the same way that I was being hounded”, she said.
Forbes also said she would have voted against the Scottish Government's gender recognition measures if she had not been on maternity leave.
Early polling of SNP members before the vote made Forbes, a Free Church of Scotland member, the frontrunner. But several media outlets campaigned for her to be removed from the leadership ballot after she disclosed these personal beliefs. Party members also attempted to have Forbes investigated for alleged “transphobia”.
Defending the democratic process, the former Holyrood Finance Secretary argued, “I should be subject to scrutiny, but you can’t have scrutiny if you use different tactics to shut down somebody.”
She continued, “It is not about disputing someone’s views: it’s about boycotts and sacking people from jobs.”
Kate Forbes warned against the consequences of her supporters being forced into silence, “That's very dangerous for democracy and for good law because, ironically enough, democracy demands disagreement."
She told the audience that the public were "fed up of being scared and intimidated" on the issue of self-identification for transgender people.
"And they are fed up of being scared and intimidated by seeing what public figures are subject to”, she added.
Although some backers deserted Forbes over her Christian stance, she went on to win significant support in the ballot, and finished with 48 per cent of the final vote in the run-off with eventual winner Humza Yousaf.