Of­fen­sive be­hav­iour act sup­port ‘not le­git­imised’

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS -

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.

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