Kate Forbes’ conversion therapy stance ‘misses the point’, warns Mhairi Black – Reuters
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LONDON — The Scottish National Party’s deputy leader in Westminster has swept aside Kate Forbes’ stance on LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, as Forbes’ views come under scrutiny in her bid for top political office from the country.
Forbes said coercive conversion therapy – where groups forcibly attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity – is “abhorrent” and would support efforts to ban such practices .
However, she has not pledged to ban conversion therapy when the person involved consents to it voluntarily – which pro-ban campaign groups say is never possible.
Pressed on the question several times by Sky News During a televised SNP leadership debate on Monday, Forbes said that if a gay person wanted to undergo conversion therapy, “it’s their choice”, and would not say they would introduce a complete ban on therapy conversion.
In an interview with POLITICO, SNP Westminster deputy leader Mhairi Black – a rising star in the party who is also gay – said Forbes’ position “misses the point”.
“Conversion therapy, you can never really consent to it,” Black said. “(What Forbes said) kind of misses the point of banning conversion therapy in the first place.”
She added: “I want to see all kinds of conversion therapy banned – a ban means a complete ban to me.”
End Conversion Therapy Scotland, a group campaigning for a full ban, also expressed concern over Forbes’ comments. In a letter wednesdaythe group said it had “no faith” that Forbes would take action to combat the “evil practice”.
The Scottish government is expected to introduce legislation on the issue by the end of this year.
Black, who backs rival candidate Humza Yousaf, is the latest SNP figure to criticize Forbes for his views on social issues as a staunch member of the socially conservative Free Church of Scotland. Forbes said she would have voted against legalizing same-sex marriage, she would never have had an abortion, and she thinks it’s wrong to have sex outside of marriage.
Amid a backlash from some LGBTQ+ members and SNP lawmakers, the leadership candidate said her faith does not and will not interfere with the way she legislates.
Despite not endorsing a candidate, outgoing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon raised her eyebrows when she pointedly described Scotland as a ‘socially progressive country’ following Forbes’ entry into the competition .
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Black – who has previously described how Forbes’ comments on same-sex marriage left her ‘incredibly hurt’ – admitted she would be ‘concerned’ if the finance secretary won the competition and became Scottish First Minister.
“The party’s position right now on conversion therapy is based on facts and also on compassion, so (I would be) concerned in the same way that I know there are people who are not necessarily okay with, say, gay marriage,” Black said.
She added, “Yeah, that’s about me, obviously. But I’m not losing sleep over it, so to speak, as long as I can still get married.
The Kate Forbes team has not yet responded to a request for comment.