HUMZA Yousaf’s right-hand man has launched a stinging attack on Kate Forbes, suggesting she cannot be trusted to protect the rights of minorities. 

Neil Gray said the Finance Secretary’s comments on same-sex marriage, transgender rights and children born to unmarried parents would not “chime with the majority of people in both the party and the country.”

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His criticism came after Ms Forbes attempted to move on from the row over her controversial remarks, telling followers on Twitter that she was “heartsore” at the hurt caused. 

However, in a statement released by the Yousaf campaign, Mr Gray said SNP members needed to pick a leader who can “serve all of Scotland.”

He said: "Kate is firmly entitled to her views, however it is clear that Kate has had to recognise that her views don’t chime with the majority of people in both the party and the country.

"But Scotland needs a leader who minorities in our society know will protect and promote their rights at all times.

"It's important that our party picks a leader who can be elected as First Minister to serve all of Scotland and who all voters know will have their back.

"The first days of this campaign have made clear that it is only Humza Yousaf who can unify our party, protect the independence majority in Parliament and build support for independence across all parts of our society."

The Herald:

The Finance Secretary - a member of the socially conservative Free Church of Scotland - saw her campaign get off to a shaky start as she answered questions put to her by the media. 

Ms Forbes was not a member of the Scottish Parliament when the equal law marriage was passed in early 2014 but has said that she would have voted no if she had been.

In another interview she said having children outside of marriage “would be wrong according to my faith.”

She also said she did not support self-identification for trans people.

"I believe that a trans woman is a biological male who identifies as a woman," she said in one interview, prompting a formal internal complaint from the co-convenor of the SNP's LGBTQ+ wing.

READ MORE: Kate Forbes 'heartsore' over 'hurt' caused by comments

The comments - particularly those on same-sex marriage - led to a number of her backers quitting the campaign, including employment minister Richard Lochhead, public finance minister Tom Arthur, and children’s minister Clare Haughey.

After a chaotic 48 hours, Ms Forbes took yesterday off in a bid to reset her campaign.

Taking to Twitter to address the criticism, she said: "Over the last few days, questions have focused on my faith.

"I feel greatly burdened and heartsore that some of my responses to direct questions in the media have caused hurt to friends, colleagues and fellow citizens.

"That was never my intention, but I've listened carefully.

"I will protect the rights of everybody in Scotland, particularly minorities, to live and to love without fear or harassment in a pluralistic and tolerant society. I will uphold the laws that have been hard won, as a servant of democracy. 

"I will also seek to enhance the rights of everybody to live in a way which enables them to flourish. I firmly believe in the inherent dignity of each human being; that underpins all ethical and political decisions I make.

"I've represented my constituents for six years. In full knowledge of my faith, voters re-elected me with one of the biggest majorities in Scotland in 2021.

"That demonstrates that voters were comfortable knowing that I would serve them faithfully and without prejudice."

Scottish Conservative Chairman Craig Hoy said: “These comments by Humza Yousaf’s campaign manager make it crystal clear that the SNP are not just split, but at each other’s throats over this leadership contest.

“Neil Gray talks about his candidate unifying the party but within days of Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation, all party discipline has fallen apart and their MSPs are now scrapping like ferrets in a sack.

“The only thing the SNP agree on is their obsession with tearing Scotland out of the UK, as they move ever further away from the real priorities of the public.”