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Labour MSP James Kelly wants to help scrap Offensive Behaviour at Football Act

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Labour MSP James Kelly will once again call on the Scottish Parliament to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act if he is re-elected in May.

Kelly, who represents Glasgow Rutherglen, has been a long time opponent of the act which criminalises offensive and threatening behaviour – including sectarianism related to football matches.

With his political future on the line, Kelly is using his fight against the Act as one of his election campaign policies.

He said: “In May, I will bring forward a Member’s Bill to repeal the Football Act. The place to tackle intolerance is in our classrooms and community groups and this Football Act is a barrier to that.

“The SNP Government in Edinburgh don’t understand that the problem of sectarianism in Scotland goes far beyond 90 minutes on a Saturday.

“The Football Act shows a Government more interested in public relations than the public interest. The Football Act is eroding trust between football fans and the police and that is solely because of the SNP.

“No other party in Parliament supported it, and Scottish civic society, football fans, academics and lawyers all opposed it at the time it was bulldozed through by an SNP majority that simply wouldn’t listen.

“The next generation should be the one that ends sectarianism for good, but that starts with getting our priorities straight, and repealing the Football Act.”

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The Act was introduced by the SNP and passed by 64 votes to 57 at Holyrood in 2012, despite every opposition party opposing it.

A number of fans groups have criticised the Act claiming that it criminalises ordinary football fans, but according to an opinion poll conducted by Panelbase in May 2015, 60% of all respondents supported the Act and only 14% wanted it ripped up.

In 2013, writing for Scotzine, Kelly claimed that the Act was ‘a PR disaster for the SNP’ and that it was ‘one of the most controversial pieces of legislation passed by the present SNP Government’.

What are your thoughts on the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act?

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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