Humza Yousaf: I don’t use faith as basis for legislation

Humza Yousaf. Pic: Scottish Government

Humza Yousaf, the favourite to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as Scottish National Party leader and First Minister, has said he doesn’t use his faith as the basis for decision-making when it comes to public policy.

Yousaf, who describes himself as a “proud Muslim,” made the comments while speaking to Andrew Marr on LBC radio station.

He said: “I’m a supporter of equal marriage. I’m a Muslim, I’m someone who’s proud of my faith. I’ll be fasting in Ramadan in a few weeks time. But what I don’t do is I don’t use my faith as the basis of legislation. What I do as a representative, as a leader, as a member of the Scottish Parliament is, my job is to bring forward policy and pursue it in the best interests of the country.”

Yousaf, who is currently the Scottish Secretary for Health and Social Care, is the new favourite at 2/5 to be Scotland’s next First Minister.

Kate Forbes was the favourite with many bookmakers, but her odds have drifted from 11/10 to 5/2 after she said she would have voted against equal marriage laws.

A staunch Christian and a member of the Free Church of Scotland, she also said that having children outside of marriage is “wrong” according to her faith.

However, she added that she would not seek to overturn gay marriage laws if she succeeds Nicola Sturgeon as Scotland’s First Minister, and has apologised for any “pain” her comments have caused.

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Speaking to BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland, she denied her campaign had been irreparably damaged by the fallout.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “We have a large party membership, most of whom are not on Twitter, and I understand that people have very strong views on these matters.

“I think the public are longing for politicians to answer straight questions with straight answers and that’s certainly what I tried to do in the media yesterday. That doesn’t necessarily allow for much nuance.”

She added: “My position on these matters is I will defend to the hilt everybody’s right in a pluralistic and tolerant society to live and to love free of harassment and fear.

“And in the same way I hope that others can be afforded the rights of people of faith to practice fairly mainstream teaching. And that is the nuance that we need to capture on equal marriage.

“Equal marriages is a legal right, and as a servant of democracy, rather than a dictator, I absolutely respect and defend that democratic right.”

Nicola Sturgeon’s replacement is expected to be confirmed next month.

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