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Offensive Behaviour at Football Act officially repealed

All four opposition parties at Holyrood united to axe the law last month.

By STV News

Published 20 Apr 2018.

The Offensive Behaviour at Football Act has officially been repealed.

A repeal bill, passed by a majority of MSPs last month, reached royal assent on Thursday and came into effective from midnight on Friday.

The football law prohibited behaviour that could have incited public disorder, discriminated against racial groups and any other behaviour that a "reasonable person" would have found offensive.

It proved controversial among football fans with many feeling it was used to criminalise behaviour which would not be illegal outside of a footballing context.

Scottish Labour MSP James Kelly, who proposed its repeal at Holyrood, described it as a "watershed moment for the Scottish Parliament".

He added: "From the point of its introduction, the Football Act did nothing to tackle sectarianism because it was such cheap law.

"It was a political device the SNP government used to pretend it was doing something, when in fact it was doing nothing meaningful at all.

"Fans up and down the country led an inspiring campaign, showing just how damaging the Act was for everyday football supporters.

"While the Football Act's repeal should be celebrated, the Scottish Government should take this as a wake-up call.

"It should now look again at its strategy to tackle sectarianism and start investing in communities and education."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The Scottish Government is playing its part in tackling all forms of abusive and offensive behaviour whenever and wherever it occurs.

"We have made unprecedented investments to support anti-sectarian projects and recently provided a further £515,000 to continue this work over the next year.

"Lord Bracadale's upcoming independent review of hate crime, commissioned by ministers last year, will also help to ensure Scotland has robust legislation in place to tackle all forms of hate crime."

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