SNP leadership contender Kate Forbes has said she would have voted against gay marriage in Scotland.

The Finance Secretary told The Scotsman that she would not have supported equal marriage as a "matter of conscience" if she had been a member of parliament at the time. 

Equal marriage was made legal in Scotland in 2014 with an overwhelming majority of 105 votes to 18, while Forbes was not elected to Holyrood until the 2016 election. 

READ MORE: Kate Forbes: Scottish independence strategy needs a 'reset'

Forbes said while she wouldn't have backed the legislation, she would have "respected and defended the democratic choice that was made". 

A senior member of her leadership campaign team said Forbes had "f***ed it" by making the comment, according to The Scotsman's Alexander Brown.

The 32-year-old said: "I believe that it should be a conscience vote because of its profound significance in all mainstream faiths.

"I think for me, Angela Merkel is the example I would follow, I would have voted, as a matter of conscience, along the lines of mainstream teaching in most major religions that marriage is between a man and a woman.

"But I would have respected and defended the democratic choice that was made.

"It is a legal right now and I am a servant of democracy, I am not a dictator.”

The National: Forbes previously said she wouldn't have voted for Scotland's gender reformsForbes previously said she wouldn't have voted for Scotland's gender reforms (Image: PA)

Forbes was earlier asked by BBC Radio Scotland if she believed a man could marry another man.

She said: "I do, under the legal provisions in this country.

"I am a servant of democracy in this country, equal marriage is a legal right and therefore I would defend that legal commitment. 

"Incidentally, though, I would hope that others can defend the rights of other minorities, including religious minorities that might take a different view."

Asked about her position on the morality of the issue, she added: "In terms of the morality of the issue, I am a practising Christian. 

READ MORE: Scottish independence strategy: Where the SNP leadership candidates stand

"I practice the teachings of most mainstream religions, whether that's Islam, Judaism, Christianity, that marriage is between a man and a woman. 

"But that's what I practice.

"As a servant of democracy in a country where this is law, I would defend to the hilt, your right and anybody else's right to live and to love without harassment or fear."

Forbes was asked by The Scotsman newspaper why she would defend the right to gay marriage but not challenge the UK Government's blocking of Scotland's gender reforms from becoming law. 

The SNP leadership contender said she didn't "see that contradiction".

She said: "I do absolutely believe that Holyrood should pass its own laws, but the question right now for any future leader is, do we, obviously after seeking legal advice, challenge it in the courts at a time when people want us to focus on the NHS and cost-of-living?

"Do we do that, or do we find a way to work with the UK Government to make the amendments required to enable it to pass.

"I think it is a question of how we govern, right now, at a time of difficult choices in a way that most aligns with the people who sent us here to govern.”

Speaking on BBC radio, earlier Forbes said that it was "right" she was under greater scrutiny after deciding to run in the contest to replace Nicola Sturgeon.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf not 'wedded' to de facto Scottish independence referendum plan

She said: "I think we get into very dangerous territory when we say that certain public offices are barred to certain minority groups. 

"Now, that could include anything under the Equality Act in terms of protected characteristics. 

"I'm talking to you as somebody who has a Christian faith, I've never kept that a secret, but I would like to ask in six years, when have I ever imposed that on other people?

"I think it's possible to have a confidence vote on certain matters, and also to hold high public office."

Referencing Merkel's stance on equal marriage again, Forbes added: "Now Germany has obviously been able to cope as a genuinely pluralistic and tolerant society with that.

"I guess what the next few weeks will demonstrate is, can Scotland cope?"

It comes after Forbes said she would not have voted for the Scottish Government's gender reforms in its current form and said she does not support self-ID.