AN open letter to Christine Grahame and other backers of Kate Forbes.

Dear Christine,

I read with sadness your endorsement on Tuesday of Kate Forbes in the leadership election. As an SNP branch member from Hawick I have always considered you part of our southern Scotland SNP family and perhaps this was why your statement was so upsetting.

I hope you will take the time to understand the hurt and depth of feeling that Kate’s recent comments on gay marriage have caused the LGBTQ community and reflect on your support for her, which I’m afraid can only be seen to endorse her views.

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As a 51-year-old lesbian who came out in 1989 I can still clearly remember the hurt and pain that was caused by being excluded from the right to marry my partner – a simple right that was available to heterosexuals above the age of 16 in the UK at the time. I’m not sure that many heterosexuals really understand how significant this was for the LGBTQ community – being denied the right to legally marry and have our relationships recognised and respected in law made us second-class citizens.

It sent the very clear message to all in society – gay and straight – that our relationships were of lesser value than those of heterosexuals. It pervaded every part of our lives and was unfortunately often also internalised. It was said at the time that a heterosexual couple married for five minutes had more rights in law than a gay couple who had been together for 50 years. There are many examples of the injustices this caused and I am massively relieved to live in a country that recognised and remedied those.

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For the gay community, civil partnership and then gay marriage were our “fall of the Berlin Wall” moments, and so Kate’s statement that she wouldn’t have voted in support of gay marriage feels like a massive retro-step. It takes us back to a very dark time in our history, one that we were all thankful to have moved on from. Her subsequent rowing-back and statement that she is “heartsore” to have caused the LGBTQ community hurt doesn’t really cut it I’m afraid – the cat is already out of the bag that she considers our relationships to have lesser value. The inescapable implication of this is that she considers heterosexual relationships to be the only “proper” ones.

For Kate to have so casually expressed these views whilst seeking to become First Minister shows a complete lack of understanding of just how divisive and hurtful they are. I can’t trust someone who holds these views to govern in my best interests. Inherent homophobia is no less damaging and corrosive than inherent racism and it is something we should be challenging at all turns – not rewarding those who hold these views with the top job in the land.

I would urge you, Christine, to please reconsider your support of Kate Forbes in the leadership election.

Bridget McGill
via email

IT seems the prospects of Scotland achieving its own sovereignty are fading as every hour passes. We have so-called independence supporters within the party, columnists in your paper, letter writers and sundry others who have lost the plot over a small piece of gender recognition reform and Kate Forbes’s religious beliefs.

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For goodness’ sake, where is your sense of perspective? Do you want our country to be controlled by parties who are incompetent, lacking any understanding or empathy for ordinary hard-working souls, or do you envision a brighter future as a sovereign nation where we can be a friendlier, greener, more positive caring force for good, ultimately making our own decisions in the world?

It’s a no-brainer. Stop fighting like rats in a sack and focus! I can tell you now if this goes on, “independence” is finished and we will all, as Alister Jack said, “have to suck it up”.

A depressed Scotsman who is very proud of my country, unlike others it seems!

KATE Forbes is an honest Christian, and very good at her job. She is a member of the “Wee Free Church”, formed originally in 1843, famous for enforcing the Sabbath by locking up children’s playgrounds. So is Ian Blackford.

They come from a tradition which, I believe, preferred religious democracy to appoint ministers by the votes of the congregation rather than the by aristocracy/landowners, which is commendable.

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She answers questions put to her by political journalists with Sturgeonesque straightforwardness but with a dearth of empathy for those who love same-sex partners, women who have chosen to have an abortion and those with gender dysphoria.

She has, though, political oomph. I consider her to be the best candidate for First Minister. She floats my vote. I regard myself as a socialist atheist.

Alan Aird