As political chaos seems to be enveloping the globe a mere month in to 2017, Fans Against Criminalisation continue our fight for the rights of a few in our small part of the world. Our goal for the calendar year is simple – the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act.
James Kelly MSP’s bill is currently being drafted by Parliamentary clerks and we are hopeful that it will be lodged in full shortly, to allow the principles of the bill to be considered by the Scottish Parliament and the Justice Committee. The consultation has demonstrated that over 71% of people strongly support the bill, and the vote in Parliament on Douglas Ross MSP’s motion regarding it has shown that Parliament believes time is up on the OFBA.
However as a campaign group, as football fans, as defenders of civil liberties and as opponents of this legislation, we cannot afford to be complacent. The Scottish Government are already attempting to subvert the will of the people and the Parliament with cheap political tricks designed to delay the process of this repeal. The government demonstrated their contempt for the concerns of the opposition, for the experts from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, and for football fans by continually refusing to listen to their concerns throughout dating back to the summer of 2011. It is now too little, too late for them to seek to review a law which is ultimately doomed to failure.
We would therefore urge everyone to help us to ensure that this law is removed from the statute books as soon as possible, by emailing your MSP’s to urge them to support James Kelly’s bill. Previous email campaigns have been extremely successful for our campaign thanks to your efforts and we hope that we can count on you to ensure that this is equally successful.
After a near 6-year struggle, victory is in sight. The fans who have been demonised are on the verge of being vindicated. Those who have been denounced as bigots are on the verge of a striking a blow in the name of civil liberties. But this victory can only be achieved if we commit to finishing this fight. We can only win if we make the point loudly and clearly that we are through being harassed, that we will no longer be criminalised and that it is time for the Scottish Parliament to repeal this law once and for all.
Please contact your MSP’s by using the email linked below.
Enter your postcode into the box below and then select the MSPs you wish to send the email to. Click 'Continue' and then enter your name and email address before sending the email.
I am writing to you as an advocate of civil liberties and as a concerned citizen to urge you to support in the strongest possible terms James Kelly MSP’s bill for the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 for the reasons outlined below.
It is unjust to enact legislation which discriminates against one sector of society, as this law does. It is also immensely dangerous to criminalise something as subjective as ‘offensiveness’, and an attempt to do so represents a dangerous assault on the basic civil right to freedom of expression.
Scotland’s pre-eminent historian, Tom Devine, has suggested that this law it would ‘’likely to go down in history as the most illiberal and counterproductive act passed by our young Parliament to date’’ and that ‘’it remains a stain on the reputation of the Scottish legal system for fair dealing."
It has needlessly criminalised an entire generation of football supporters. It has created a toxic culture of heavy-handed policing at football matches. Civil liberties groups have argued that it endangers civil liberties, ethnic minority advocacy groups have suggested that it discriminates against minority groups and the law society have deemed it to be bad law. It offers additional protection to precisely no individual or group who are not protected under other laws and provisions. It creates greater ambiguity in the law, it has bred mistrust between fans and police and undermines the real fight against sectarianism and discrimination in this country.
5 years on since it was enacted, it has failed against any possible measure set.
I urge you to support the bill for its repeal and to oppose any attempts to delay this process. The consultation for James Kelly’s bill demonstrated that more than 71% of respondents strongly support the repeal, and a vote in Parliament demonstrated that the majority of elected MSP’s agree with this course of action.
The people have spoken. The Parliament has spoken. This law is not fit for purpose.
As your constituent I urge you to please vote in favour of this repeal, and to do all that you possibly can to ensure that this illiberal, dangerous and ill-thought out legislation is removed from the statute books.