Official Holyrood portraits of Kate Forbes (l) and John Swinney (r). She wears a flowery dress and red jacket and he wears a black suit with purple tie.

Humanist Society responds to election of John Swinney and Kate Forbes

May 15, 2024

While we have serious disagreements with the deputy first minister’s personal views on LGBT+ rights, abortion, assisted dying, and more, this new administration has reaffirmed its progressive commitments.

John Swinney is Scotland’s new first minister, and Kate Forbes is his deputy FM. We intend to hold this new government rigorously to account on issues of bodily autonomy, LGBT+ rights, reproductive health, and a properly secular education system. We owe this to our members, to Scotland’s LGBT+ community, to people seeking harassment-free abortion care, and to the three quarters of Scots who want to see humane assisted dying laws.

Without some level of trust, political discourse becomes meaningless. For now, we must take these statements of intent at face value

We have serious disagreements with Ms Forbes’s personal views on many of the above issues. However, we note the encouraging messages issues by our new First Minister since his swearing in, recommitting the government to safe-access zones around abortion facilities, ending conversion therapy, and ensuring greater ease and dignity in gender recognition. Moreover, the Deputy First Minister has stated her commitment to collective responsibility on government policy, including the vital initiatives just outlined.

Without some level of trust, political discourse becomes meaningless. For now, we must take these statements of intent at face value, and wish Mr Swinney, Ms Forbes, and the new government well. Scotland is a secular country, and there is work to be done bringing about the progressive changes the majority of its citizens want to see.

Our CEO Fraser Sutherland said:

“Humanism is a secular worldview. It involves defending the right to hold a range of belief systems and values, and to express these in the public sphere. It means working constructively with people of faith within democratic frameworks. But, by definition, secularism cannot support the imposition of religious dogma on others. We will hold this new administration to account for the commitments they have made this week on buffer zones, conversion practices, and gender recognition reform.”

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