Public consultation into offensive behaviour at football and threatening communications laws find clear public opposition
A CONSULTATION into the possibility of scrapping the Scottish Government’s controversial Offensive Behaviour at Football Act (OBFA) has found a large majority in favour.
Over 70 per cent of 3248 respondents fully supported scrapping the OBFA as opposed to just 24 per cent who remain in full support of the legislation, which bans ‘offensive behaviour’ including the expression of political beliefs at football matches.
The consultation, the results of which were published by Scottish Labour MSP James Kelly, also showed that over 60 per cent of respondents favoured the abandonment of the Threatening Communications section of the legislation, with just 21 per cent still in favour.
Speaking about the results of the consultation, Kelly said: “The people have had their say. It’s time to scrap the SNP Football Act.
“The SNP were arrogant to bulldoze this piece of legislation through Holyrood in the first place. Every other party opposed it. Academics, lawyers, football clubs and football fans opposed it, yet the SNP wouldn’t listen and used their then majority in the Scottish Parliament to railroad the Football Act through.
“Having lost that majority, and faced with clear public support for repeal through the consultation process, it would be incredibly arrogant if the SNP do not now think again.
“I will take the next steps in the legislative process. The SNP should consider dropping their support for this bad law, and backing my Bill.”
James Kelly MSP and supporters show the OBFA the red card following the publication of consultation results
— James Kelly MSP (@JamesKellyLab) 31 October 2016
Repeal the OBFA?
Fully supportive 2310 71.12 per cent
Partially supportive 70 2.16 per cent
Neutral 15 0.46 per cent
Partially opposed 42 1.26 per cent
Fully opposed 795 24. 48 per cent
Unsure 16 0.49 per cent
Repeal Threatening Communications component?
Fully supportive 2017 62.1 per cent
Partially supportive 155 4.77 per cent
Neutral 105 3.23 per cent
Partially opposed 52 1.6 per cent
Fully opposed 689 21.21 per cent
Unsure 104 3.20 per cent
Skipped 126 3.88 per cent
The Scottish Government introduced the OBFA, without the support of any opposition parties, in 2012.
Kelly lodged a private members bill earlier this year to repeal the act.
Attempts to implement the legislation, which opponents claim is nebulous, unenforceable, open to abuse and authoritarian, has seen escalating conflict between police officers and football fans.
The most high profile incident occurred in March 2013, when several hundred Celtic fans were kettled by police in Glasgow’s Gallowgate, leading to 13 arrests.
The Scottish Government maintain that the OBFA legislation is necessary to tackle sectarianism and other anti-social behaviour linked to football and that the public supports this effort. In May 2015, a Panelbase poll found that a majority of Scottish football fans supported the OBFA.
UPDATE: This article was amended on 1 November. The headline was changed to make it clear opposition to the OBFA came from a consultation rather than a poll. A section was also added providing the Scottish Government’s view on the need for the OBFA.
Picture courtesy of Brian Hargadon
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