NICOLA Sturgeon’s resignation comes at a time of great uncertainty for Scotland’s gender reform legislation.

The UK Government’s decision to issue a Section 35 order and block the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from becoming law has put transgender rights at the front and centre of Scottish politics.

However, requests from ministers for further specific detail on what the UK Government would like to see change in the bill have gone largely unanswered.

Nicola Sturgeon has stood resolutely behind the reform of gender recognition in Holyrood, despite fierce criticism from the opposition, campaign groups and even members of her own party.

But LGBT+ people are expressing concern that a change in leadership could result in less resolute support for the bill, particularly if a certain candidate emerges victorious in a leadership race.

Kate Forbes as FM?

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes is touted as one of the favourites to take over as First Minister and has made a big impression since becoming a minister. 

But in 2019 she was one of 15 SNP politicians who signed an open letter calling on the Scottish Government to delay its commitment to reforming the Gender Recognition Act.

At the time she said that MSPs should not rush into “changing the definition of male and female”.

Last year, when asked if her views had changed on the subject, she said that they had not.

READ MORE: Who will replace Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister?

“My view remains the same, which is that we need to ensure we are listening to all voices,” she told Holyrood Magazine.

“I’m not sure we’ve managed to achieve what I hoped we might, which was a more intelligent and informed and fair discussion that allowed people to express their views without being shut down.

“This is an issue that’s bigger than a political bubble. It’s an issue that mums and dads ask me about in relation to their children or their schools.

“I think a lot of people feel disenfranchised from the discussion and that does not lend itself to making good law.”

A recent poll by the Sunday Times saw Forbes come out as the favourite to replace Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister.

The National:

But Eóghan Macmillan, a member of Out for Independence – the LGBT+ wing of the SNP – told The National that he had concerns about the prospect of Kate Forbes becoming First Minister.

“By all accounts she has some quite socially conservative views," he said.

“She seems to have some opposition to trans rights.

“This is not progressive. And the thing is, if she was elected First Minister, it wouldn’t take her doing a U-turn on [gender reform] policy to have a negative effect.

“It’s would be very easy to let things just lose momentum.”

Forbes is also a member of the Free Church of Scotland, an organisation which does not support gay marriage and believes there are very few circumstances when abortion is justified.

Indeed, a comment made by Forbes on abortion in 2018 drew criticism from abortion rights campaigners.

READ MORE: What it was like as only pro-independence journalist at Nicola Sturgeon's resignation

During an appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast for Scotland, Forbes said: “May our politicians recognise that the way we treat the most vulnerable – whether the unborn or the terminally ill – is a measure of true progress.”

This aspect of her politics is also raising eyebrows.

“I think Forbes being First Minister would be a concern,” said Daniel, a 26-year-old teacher.

“I don’t necessarily think things would go backwards for LGBT+ people but how can you expect support and commitment in fighting for LGBT issues when her beliefs and that of her church deny my right to marriage and a women’s right to abortion.”

If Forbes does decide to throw her name into the hat to become the next First Minister her views on LGBT+ rights and abortion are likely to face scrutiny.

For the moment, though, many are expressing their sadness at losing Nicola Sturgeon as a prominent LGBT+ ally in Scotland.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross 'glad' Nicola Sturgeon has stood down as First Minister

“I think it's a sad day for Scotland that such an immensely capable politician, so across her brief and a source of stability and reassurance in frankly bewildering, turbulent and toxic time,s feels the need to step back from leading our country,” comedian Scott Agnew told The National.

“It's a particularly sad day for LGBTQ people in Scotland - Nicola Sturgeon has been the architect of a more inclusive and progressive SNP, Scottish Government and wider independence movement.

“I'd hope that would continue under the new leader and that any drift to the right would be resisted by the party.

“LGBTQ people will not forget the loss of such a tireless champion so easily.”