Bid To Begin To Overturn Football Act

19 May 2016, 07:53

Labour will take steps to repeal controversial legislation aimed at tackling sectarianism today.

Glasgow MSP James Kelly is to meet with parliament officials to begin drafting a Member's Bill to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act.

The SNP used its majority in the last Scottish Parliament to pass the legislation despite opposition from across the chamber.

Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens all pledged to repeal the Act in their manifestos for the recent election, which returned a minority SNP administration.

Mr Kelly said: "Today I'll take the first steps to repeal the SNP's hated Football Act. The law has become a symbol of the SNP's arrogance in government and it is time for it to go.

"The Football Act was bulldozed through parliament by the SNP with not a single other party voting for it and everyone from football fans to academics and lawyers opposing it.

"The SNP still won't admit they got it wrong on the Football Act, but they have lost their majority in parliament and I will work constructively with the other parties to abolish the Football Act.''

The legislation criminalised offensive and threatening behaviour, including sectarian behaviour, related to football matches and any communications containing threats or incitement to religious hatred.

At the time the Act was passed, opposition parties released a statement claiming the SNP had failed to make the case for it and warned it could do ''more harm than good''.

They also cited concerns of football fans and religious, anti-sectarianism and legal organisations.

A report published earlier this year revealed there were only 79 convictions in 2014/15 under the legislation, with opposition parties stating the figures demonstrated the law is unnecessary.