Scottish Labour launches motion to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act
The first vote on the repeal bill is expected to take place by the end of the year
James Kelly - Image credit: Scottish Parliament
Scottish Labour James Kelly has today launched a member’s bill to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act.
The bill was officially lodged at the Scottish Parliament today, with a timetable for the bill to be agreed next week.
The first vote on repealing the act is expected to take place before the end of the year.
There is cross-party support from all the opposition parties to scrap the legislation, which was passed by the SNP while it had a majority in the last parliament.
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In a public consultation by Kelly 71 per cent of respondents supporting repealing the bill.
Speaking ahead of formally launching the Bill at Cathkin Park, Glasgow, today, 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.
“Every other party opposed it. Academics, lawyers, football clubs and football fans opposed it, yet the SNP wouldn’t listen and used its majority in the Scottish Parliament to railroad the Football Act through.
“Having lost that majority, having seen the clear public support for repeal through the consultation process, and then having been sent a clear message by the Scottish electorate last week to get back to the day job, the SNP really needs to wake up to how unpopular this law is.”
At the launch he called the repeal
He said: “Repealing the SNP football act will be a historic and important moment for devolution.
“The law sums up how arrogant the SNP has become in government – and the contempt ministers have for parliament.
“Lawyers, academics, football fans and every opposition party opposed the law as it made its way through parliament.
“The SNP dismissed those concerns and simply used a parliamentary majority to bulldoze the act through.
"And it has since ignored the views of the Scottish Parliament on this issue.
"Repealing the act will show that the days of the SNP treating the Scottish Parliament and the views of the Scottish people with contempt are long over.”
The Scottish Liberal Democrats have endorsed Kelly’s bid to scrap the act.
Scottish Lib Dem justice spokesperson Liam McArthur said: “With the repeal bill now being formally lodged, the final whistle is in sight for this unpopular and unnecessary act.
“We need a tactical switch towards a more holistic approach to tackling sectarianism as the experts recommend.
“This must involve grassroots and community-wide actions, working with local authorities, churches, football clubs and more.
“This minority SNP government must recognise the game has changed and join opposition parties in voting to repeal this legislation.”
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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