SNP leadership frontrunner Kate Forbes has said she believes having children outside of marriage is “wrong”.
The devout Christian attributed her views to her faith as a member of the Free Church of Scotland and said it was something she would personally “seek to avoid”.
Her comments come hours after the favourite to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as leader was engulfed by controversy after saying she would have voted against gay marriage if she had been an MSP when it became law in Scotland in 2014.
Those comments prompted at least four prominent SNP colleagues to withdraw their support, saying the finance secretary had crossed a “red line”.
Asked about her views on sex before marriage, she told Sky News: “It is entirely up to them. It’s something that I would seek to avoid for me personally. But it doesn’t fuss me, it doesn’t put me up nor down. The choices that other people make is [up to them].
“In terms of my faith, my faith would say that sex is for marriage and that’s the approach that I would practice.”
However, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch maintains that she celebrates the lives brought into the world outside of marriage.
“For me, it would be wrong according to my faith, but for you I have no idea what your faith is. So, in a free society you can do what you want”, Ms Forbes added.
Following her earlier comments on gay marriage, at least four prominent SNP colleagues have withdrawn their support for Ms Forbes’ candidacy, including Clare Haughey, Gillian Martin, Richard Lochhead and Tom Arthur. Marriage is “between a man and a woman”, she told BBC Radio 4 Today, but would only oppose equal marriage for religious reasons.
“I have always viewed marriage as a question of conscience”, she told interviewer Mishal Hussain, noting that Angela Merkel voted against equal marriage as a matter of conscience. “It was under her leadership as chancellor that it was implemented”, she added.
“If we are saying that high public office is barred to people of faith, or only to people with the right kind of faith, or with socially accepted faith, we are moving into very dangerous days”, Ms Forbes said, insisting that she was not a “dictator” and would “defend this democratic right”.
Ms Forbes previously confirmed that she would not have voted for Ms Sturgeon’s Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill in its current form. She was on maternity leave when the vote took place so she did not participate.
She has publicly called on the SNP to delay the proposals which would make it easier for transgender people to self-identify as their chosen gender, further stating that the “right to practice” for people of faith should be defended in any conversion therapy ban.
Despite the public controversy, Ms Forbes has maintained that she intends to see her leadership campaign through “at the moment”, suggesting that it is not set in stone.