Friday, June 23rd 2017

Offensive Behaviour Act could be repealed by end of season

STV News have reported that Labour MSP James Kelly has officially launched a private members bill to repeal the legislation.

Mr Kelly is said to be confident that the controversial Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 will be repealed and that the next football season will be the last to come under it.

If the bid is successful it will be first instance of devolved legislation being scrapped.

The Offensive Behaviour Act was passed in 2011 in an SNP majority. The party no longer holds the majority and the many current MSPs were elected on manifestos which committed to repealing this legislation. 

The Act prohibits behaviour that could incite public disorder, that discriminates against racial groups and "other behaviour that a reasonable person would be likely to consider offensive".

Kelly said: "The SNP's football act is now approaching injury time. My bid to scrap the Act has now been formally introduced and I am hopeful we can see a vote on it this year.

"As it stands, I am confident that next season will be the final football season with this poor piece of legislation in place. SNP ministers were arrogant to bulldoze this law through Holyrood in the first instance."

In the last year there has been an increase of 32% of charges under the legislation.

While some groups have welcomed the move SNP MSP James Dornan said: 

"It is absolutely extraordinary that, on the anniversary of the Brexit vote and with all of the challenges that come with it, Labour consider repealing an anti-sectarian law to be one of the biggest issues facing the country - a law which evidence shows the vast majority of people across Scotland as a whole support.

"At a time when the SNP government is focused on education, health, jobs, the economy and protecting Scotland during the Brexit negotiations, other parties would rather see us remove legislation that tackles sectarianism, prejudice and discrimination whilst offering no alternative in its place. "

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