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Calls for Repeal of Offensive Behaviour at Football Act

MSPs have called on the Scottish Government to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, claiming that is badly written and unnecessary, reports the BBC.

Following a recent debate in the Scottish Parliament, the opposition parties all voted in favour of a motion urging the Government to scrap the legislation.

The Act was introduced by the SNP Government in 2012 in an attempt to tackle offensive behaviour at football matches, but was widely opposed by the other political parties.

The Scottish Government has responded to the vote by highlighting research showing public support for the Act, including an independent YouGov poll conducted in June 2015 that found:

  • 83% of respondents support legislation to tackle offensive behaviour at football,
  • 80% of respondents directly support the Offensive Behaviour in Football and Threatening Behaviour Act, and
  • 76% of football fans directly support the Offensive Behaviour in Football and Threatening Behaviour Act.

Commenting on the vote, Minister for Community Safety Annabelle Ewing said:

“Today’s vote threatens to set us back as a country in our efforts to effectively combat prejudice, hate crime and sectarianism and ultimately to drive such behaviour out of Scottish society.

“Evidence shows strong public support for this legislation, the repeal of which would leave a significant gap in effectively prosecuting hate crime.

“This Act allows prosecutors and the courts to tackle the most serious examples of threatening communications appropriately, and gives the power to impose appropriate sentences for these vile crimes, not limited to the maximum 12 months sentence otherwise available.”

She went on to say that the Government would reflect on the debate and give full consideration to all of the issues raised.

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