Is the proposed legislation needed ?
The proposed Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill has caused great concerns to be raised by not only Celtic fans but fans of many clubs.
The Scottish Government and others are adamant that they need to bring in these laws to combat sectarianism, bigotry and online hate campaigns. However it is felt by many that we already have the laws in place to deal with these crimes already.
On Wednesday a person appeared on petition at Stirling Sheriff Court in relation to the creating of websites which carried sectarian hate messages about Celtic manager Neil Lennon.
The charges brought were:
- Breach of the Peace
- Breach of the Peace with religious aggravation
- Breach of Section38(1) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2002
We should highlight that in accordance with the law this person is presumed as innocent until proven guilty of these charges. However this example serves to show that current legislation can deal with the problems we face.
These charges suggest to me and many others that we do have sufficient laws in place to bring someone before a court and therefore there is absolutely no need for this ill thought out legislation to proceed to law.
In support of this I would ask you to read this article on a freedom of information request lodged by a legal professional http://scotslaw.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/offensive-and-threatening-behaviour-and-the-anti-sectarian-bill/
It appears to support the idea that there is in fact no need for any new laws or powers for the Police.
It has been clear to many of us that the only reason this situation has came about is down to the fact that the Police and politicians in this country have turned a deaf ear to the mass sectarian and racist singing coming from Rangers supporters which has grown to disgusting proportions over the past ten years.
Instead of enforcing the existing laws the Police and also the SFA and SPL have stood by and done nothing. The only people to have done anything to tackle this disgusting behaviour are UEFA who it must be noted are not based in Scotland.
The proposed Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill will not do anything to stamp out sectarianism or racism in this country it will simply introduce blanket criminalisation of football fans.
What will help stamp out Sectarianism and racism is for the Police to do their job right within the existing legal framework. We as a society can also help by educating young people that this type of stuff is simply wrong and has no place in modern multicultural Scotland.
We ask all fans regardless of which team you support who believe that this legislation is flawed and unnecessary to contact their MSP and ask them to vote against this proposition becoming law.
You can find your local MSP here:
Please give us your views regardless of whether you are for or against this. You can also vote in our unscientific poll.