Kezia Dugdale has resigned as leader of the Scottish Labour Party.
The lesbian politician, a former PinkNews Awards winner, has led her party for two years, during which time it suffered difficult losses in Scottish parliamentary elections.
Jeremy Corbyn, seen as being to Ms Dugdale’s left, took over as leader of the UK Labour Party during the same time period.
In a resignation letter seen by The Courier, Ms Dugdale said: “I have given the task of achieving this all that I have.
“But with nearly four years now until the next Scottish Parliament elections, I am convinced that the party needs a new leader with fresh energy, drive and a new mandate to take the party into that contest.”
In an interview with BBC Scotland, Ms Dugdale, who recently revealed she is dating an SNP politician, said she wanted to give her successor the “space and time” to establish themselves.
Kezia Dugdale tells BBC Scotland’s Brian Taylor it is time to “pass the baton on” https://t.co/H82IILaDr4 pic.twitter.com/E7UPvhNS2w
— BBC Scotland News (@BBCScotlandNews) August 29, 2017
She strongly denied suggestions she was leaving in order to avoid being pushed out by supporters of Mr Corbyn.
The next Scottish Parliament elections are set for 2021, with Westminster elections due in 2022.
The new leader will be Scottish Labour’s fifth since the party left UK office in 2010.
Former UK party leader Ed Miliband was among the first to pay tribute on Twitter.
[email protected]: you gave your heart and soul to leading Scottish Labour. Thank You. You deserve to get your life back. Enjoy.
— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) August 29, 2017
In an interview with PinkNews after coming out, Ms Dugdale opened up about her experience as an LGBT woman saying: “The most important thing to me is that I use the voice and the power that I have to make a difference for young LGBT people and that’s why I look back at what I’ve done over the past five years with a great deal of pride.
“I mean it goes back even longer than five years.
“I signed the campaign for equal marriage back in 2005, when it was first being established.
“When I got elected to the Scottish Parliament, I always championed LGBT rights, I co-convened the cross party groups on sexual health and blood borne viruses, I co-convened the children and young people group and we did joint meetings on mental health to discuss attitudes to young LGBT people.”
Kezia Dugdale with her girlfriend, Jenny Gilruth
A Scottish Labour source told The Courier: “This is both a disappointment and a blow.
“Kezia could have been a radical and transformative Labour first minister.
“We currently have an SNP government that is obsessed with separation and has allowed our public services to rot while it focuses on sowing division.
“The tragedy is Kezia always understood those problems that exist in Scotland.
“With our new leader, we will find those solutions and deliver a government that works.”