Bill to repeal Offensive Behaviour at Football Act to be published within weeks
James Kelly’s repeal bill is set get the support of all four opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament
Football supporters - Image credit: Flickr
A bill to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act is to be published within weeks.
Labour MSP James Kelly will lodge his proposal to scrap the SNP act before the end of the season, with a final bill to be published within weeks.
At a fringe event at the Scottish Labour conference Kelly, confirmed that he expected to get the support of all the opposition parties, which will provide the majority necessary to get his bill passed by parliament.
MSPs voted in favour of repealing the act in a non-binding motion proposed by the Scottish Conservatives in November last year.
In a public consultation on Kelly’s proposed bill, more than 70 per cent of respondents were in favour of repealing the act.
The act has been criticised for disproportionately affecting young, working class males and for criminalising acts that would not be an offence in other circumstances.
Attendees at the conference fringe event – where a representative of the group Fans Against Criminalisation also spoke in favour of repeal – were told that in some cases suspects were picked up in dawn raids and first offenders on minor offences were kept in cells overnight, with some fans being arrested for as little as swearing.
Kelly called the amount of money being poured into the act “scandalous”.
He said: “The SNP football act is deep into injury time. The public want it scrapped and parliament voted in support of that.
“The only thing standing in the way of repealing this bad piece of law is the SNP.
Kelly added that SNP ministers now need to “seriously consider their position.”
He said: “Do they want to continue to support a bad law which has lost credibility or are they willing to show some humility and support Labour to stop criminalising football fans?”
“This generation can be the generation which ends sectarianism for good – but only if resources are placed where they need to be – classrooms and communities, not football terraces and Twitter.”
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The first vote on the repeal bill is expected to take place by the end of the year
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Dr Duncan Morrow, chair of the independent Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland, said proposals to make football clubs strictly liable for fans' behaviour must remain an option