Scrapping sectarian football law would ‘send out wrong message’

Celtic fans unfurl a banner that comments on the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS Group
Celtic fans unfurl a banner that comments on the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS Group
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Calls have been made to make changes to controversial legislation aimed at tackling anti-sectarianism in football, rather than scrap it.

Justice Committee member George Adam MSP made the argument speaking on Radio Scotland, adding that getting rid of the law would “send out the wrong message”.

It comes after opposition MSPs joined together to approve the general principles of a member’s bill from Labour’s James Kelly to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act.

READ MORE: MSPs vote in favour of repealing controversial Football Act

Mr Adam told Good Morning Scotland: “The Scottish Parliament is bad at post-legislative scrutiny, why don’t we use this as an opportunity?

“It wasn’t suggested by the minister, but it’s one of the things I would suggest myself.

“There are some parts of it that people don’t agree with, why don’t we use this as a way of doing some post-legislative work on it?

“I think that’s possibly the way forward on this and I would encourage anyone to look at that at this stage, because repealing it sends out the wrong message.”

READ MORE: If the act goes, who tackles offensive behaviour?

The SNP had used its majority in the last parliament to introduce the Act in the face of opposition from all other parties - and since being implemented, it has faced criticism from football fans and the legal profession.

The vote on Thursday saw the Scottish Government pledge to respect the will of parliament after MSPs voted in favour of repealing the controversial legislation.

On Friday, Mr Kelly told the broadcaster: “It’s only now the government sees the votes are against them and they’re likely to lose that we hear talk about amendments.

READ MORE: Celtic fans display banner opposing controversial Football Act

“Even though we’re talking about amendments, nobody’s actually articulating what changes we would make.

“The reality is this is a weak law with a lack of clarity.

“We need a united approach from the political parties and the groups outside parliament.

“That united approach should emphasise zero tolerance of anti-sectarian behaviour using the pre-existing laws, which have more credibility.”