New polls show controversial politician Kate Forbes in the lead to become Scottish First Minister

Kate Forbes previously stated her opposition to same-sex marriage and said she would have found it "very difficult" to support the Gender Recognition Reform bill had she not been on leave when it passed.

Portrait of First Minister candidate Kate Forbes.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Despite openly sharing her opposition to same-sex marriage, new polls suggest that Kate Forbes is the favourite among the Scottish public to become the country’s new First Minister. The current Finance Secretary outperformed her competitors in research conducted by Panelbase, which asked people to vote for the best candidate to succeed Nicola Sturgeon.

Forbes was up by 10 points to achieve 33% of the overall vote, while both Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and former Community Safety Minister Ash Regan were up by three points each to 18% and 10%, respectively. An additional 36% of respondents did not express an opinion.

Similarly, between March 8 and 10, pollsters at Survation asked 1,037 people in Scotland aged over 16 for their views on the Scottish National Party (SNP) leadership race. Data showed that while SNP supporters have a similar view of each candidate, Labour and Conservative voters favoured Forbes.

Those surveyed believe that she would perform best in several areas, including healthcare and the NHS, education, crime, the environment, transport and the economy. However, in all of these fields, between 41% and 50% of people did not know who to vote for.

These projections come after Forbes, a member of the socially conservative Free Church of Scotland, made headlines in February for openly admitting she does not support same-sex marriage. The politician said that had she been a member of parliament in 2014 when the legislation was being decided on, she would not have supported it.

“I would have voted, as a matter of conscience, along the lines of mainstream teaching in most major religions that marriage is between a man and a woman,” she commented.

Forbes has also expressed her views on the country’s Gender Recognition Reform bill that was passed in December and later blocked by the UK government under Section 35 of the 1998 Scotland Act. While she said Westminster’s interference was “outrageous”, she added that she does not intend to overturn the decision in court, as former Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had planned to do, as she doesn’t “believe that is in line with the public’s priorities”.

The politician added that she would have found the bill “very difficult” to support had she not been on leave when it was passed and that she does not support a system for gender recognition based on self-declaration without wider safeguards.

Furthermore, in anticipation of ballots releasing today, March 13, Out for Independence, the LGBTQ+ wing of the SNP, questioned the three candidates on certain issues relevant to the queer community. While both Yousaf and Regan responded, Forbes has yet to.


In his answers, Humza Yousaf has expressed overwhelming allyship for the LGBTQ+ community. He reiterated his support for same-sex marriage, recognising non-binary identities, protecting and working with intersex people, banning conversion therapy, the Hate Crime bill, challenging the use of Section 35 to block the Gender Recognition Reform bill, and more.

Ash Regan similarly backed many of the above themes, with some deviations.

© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.