Holyrood looks set to repeal Football Act

The highly controversial Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act (2012) looks set to be repealed today as Holyrood votes on the third reading of James Kelly MSP’s member’s bill.

The legislation, widely reviled by fans’ groups and civil liberties organisations, became vulnerable after the SNP lost their parliamentary majority. A consultation carried out in 2016 demonstrated opposition to the bill of 71%. The Greens, Scottish Tories, and Scottish Liberal Democrats are all expected to back the Scottish Labour bill to repeal.

Jeanette Findlay, a member of Fans Against Criminalisation, laid out the case against the bill in an article in the Herald last June:

“The consequences of the Act have been catastrophic for many people. Young people have lost out on jobs and promotions because of prosecution, far less conviction; some young trainee teachers and health service and other professionals have had to face the prospect of losing their entire careers before they had even started, for the same reason.”

If, as is likely, James Kelly is successful in repealing the legislation, it will be the first bill passed and repealed by the Scottish parliament. The Glasgow MSP had this to say on the matter:

“Since the SNP government used its previous parliamentary majority to force the legislation through, it has been completely discredited.

“The law was a simplistic attempt to solve a complex problem. Sectarianism is a problem in Scotland that goes back generations. It can’t be solved in 90 minutes on a Saturday.  The way to fix it is in classrooms and community groups.

“Instead, spending on anti-sectarianism projects has plummeted. The SNP chased some headlines, passed a bad law and pretended that the problem was fixed. That’s not good enough and it’s time to get serious about this.

“It is time for Holyrood to come together and scrap the Football Act.”

Photo by Colin

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