Thursday, November 2nd 2017

Rethinking the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act

The BBC reported today that MSPs have voted to urge the Scottish government to repeal its Offensive Behaviour at Football Act. 

All of the opposition parties back scrapping the act, and came together to give the SNP government a symbolic defeat.

SNP MSPs defended the legislation, saying that opponents have failed to put forward any workable alternatives.

The Offensive Behaviour at Football Act (OBFA), which came into force as law in 2012, was put through by the votes of the SNP majority government of the time, despite all other parties being in opposition. 

Given the SNP no longer holds a majority government, it has come under pressure from opposition parties who maintain that the law is poorly written, unnecessary in light of existing offences and unfairly targets football fans.

Conservative MSP Douglas Ross put forward a motion for debate underlining that "sectarian behaviour and hate crime are a blight on society in Scotland and should not be tolerated under any circumstances", but adding that "there are laws in place to prosecute acts of hatred" other than the OBFA.

Labour MSP James Kelly, who has lodged a member's bill to repeal the legislation, said the act had been a "failure", and argues it has been ineffective in dealing with sectarianism. He said there should not be a law that targets one section of sports fans alone.

Minister for Community Safety Annabelle Ewing said afterwards that the vote "threatens to set us back as a country in our efforts to effectively combat prejudice, hate crime and sectarianism".

She also said: "The result of the vote sends completely the wrong message about how serious parliament as a whole is about doing so - but the Scottish Government remains absolutely committed to that objective.

For more information you can read the full article from the BBC here

Joomla SEF URLs by Artio

Watch our Talking Heads - a collection of video interviews real people, expressing their real views.