Offensive behaviour act support ‘not legitimised’
Support from a women’s group for a controversial law to tackle sectarianism and online abuse is “not legitimised” by any statistics surrounding its use, academics told MSPs.
Lecturers questioned claims the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act offered extra protection to women and minority groups such as LGBTI and disabled people during an appearance at Holyrood’s Justice Committee.
The committee is considering whether the legislation should be repealed, and has taken evidence from a broad range of organisations, including the Scottish Women’s Convention (SWC).
The SWC opposes a bid by Labour’s James Kelly to repeal the two-part law, aimed at tackling both sectarianism at football – including offensive chants and songs – and cracking down on violent online abuse.
The organisation argued women “have felt increasingly scared about particularly public transport and public places like pubs when football games are on”.
But Dr Stuart Waiton of Abertay University said their view was “grotesquely patronising to football fans” and not backed up by statistics.