Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Salmond uses SNP Holyrood majority to ‘railroad’ through vote on Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill

Salmond Crown OfficeWhat Salmond wants, Salmond gets - More Catholics & religious minorities in Scottish jails to fiddle the crime stats. The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill (link varies due to creepy Holyrood tactics of moving the page on instructions from SG –Ed) which aims to tackle sectarian crime in Scotland in a rather limited & badly worded way, has today been passed by 64 votes to 57 in the Scottish Parliament with the SNP controlled Scottish Government using their Parliamentary majority to vote the controversial bill into law. During the debate, the Scottish Parliament showed some typical sectarianism itself by banning a group of Celtic football supporters who attended the public gallery, on the reason they were wearing white t-shirts bearing in single letters across each supporter the words "fans not criminals".

Scottish Law Reporter covered the issue earlier today HERE where Police Forces across Scotland & the Crown Office will now be looking forward to arresting more Roman Catholics in an effort to even–up the statistics on Sectarian Crime in Scotland, and you can read more of our coverage here : Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill and on sectarianism in Scotland.

Don't forget our report of earlier in the week which caused a stir : Hate Data’ destroyed as Salmond’s SNP fear Independent Scotland viewed as ‘Too Sectarian’ to join predominantly Catholic European Union

euscotchurchScottish Government fear Sectarian attacks against Catholics and other religious minorities may endanger EU view of independent Scotland. ON Wednesday of this week, whether Church burning anti-catholic Scots and the rest of us want it or not, the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill better known as the Scottish Government’s anti-sectarian legislation aimed at targeting insulting songs at Football matches, will be waved through into law by the SNP’s majority vote in the Scottish Parliament (no doubt after a tumultuous debate) on the pretext of strengthening the powers of the Crown Office & Police to prosecute rising numbers of sectarian attacks against Roman Catholics and other religious minorities in Scotland.

SLR’s report revealed claims one of the motivations for the destruction of the Historical Sectarian Crime Data at the Crown Office was because the Scottish Government are worried the prospects of an anti-Catholic institutionally sectarian and institutionally racist Independent Scotland would be refused EU membership by the predominantly Catholic European Union. The report also laid forth claims from COPFS insiders that everyone from Police to Hospital workers & staff of public bodies have been indulging on online sectarian hate postings.

BBC News reports on the passage of the bill :

Anti-bigot laws passed by the Scottish Parliament

New laws to tackle religious hatred and bigotry related to football have been passed by the Scottish Parliament, despite a lack of opposition support. The new Act aims to tackle the issue with jail terms of up to five years for behaviour which could cause public disorder in and around matches.

But Labour, the Tories, Lib Dems and the Scottish Greens said the bill was "railroaded" through by the SNP. They said it was "bad law which risks doing more harm than good".

Despite opposition, the majority SNP government's Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill was passed by 64 votes to 57. The legislation, which has won backing from police and prosecutors, aims to stamp out abusive behaviour, whether fans are watching matches in a stadium, in the pub or commenting online.

Earlier, about 20 football supporters wearing t-shirts bearing the slogan "fans not criminals" were excluded from the Holyrood chamber after parliament bosses told them they were only allowed in if they took them off.

The legislation will create two new offences relating to behaviour deemed to "incite religious, racial or other forms of hatred".

Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham said she was pleased the legislation would soon become law. She said: "This bill sends out an important message about the kind of Scotland we want to live in, because the vast majority of people in this country have no time whatsoever for the kind of mindless bigotry that has attached itself to the small minority who only damage and undermine our beautiful game - or those who peddle hatred by sitting behind a computer screen posting threats of harm on the internet. This is the 21st century, and this kind of behaviour is simply not acceptable, so action had to be taken. The passing of these important new laws sends out a powerful message to the bigots that this behaviour will not be tolerated in a modern Scotland."

Ms Cunningham added: "There has been a lot of debate in recent months about this legislation, but we've listened, we've acted, and the experts are firmly behind it. Scotland has shown the courage of its convictions and has taken the action needed."

The bill was brought forward in the wake of several high-profile football-related incidents, including trouble at Rangers and Celtic games.

All four opposition parties at Holyrood and independent MSP Margo MacDonald released a joint statement.

It said: "Members of all political parties are determined to wipe the blight of sectarianism from Scottish society. It is of real regret that the first piece of legislation passed by this new parliament has been railroaded through by the SNP. The SNP has used its majority to force through bad law that risks doing more harm than good. It sets a worrying precedent for this parliament."

The opposition statement added: "The SNP has failed to make the case for the legislation both in parliament and out - with football fans, religious organisations, anti-sectarianism organisations, children's charities, the Law Society, the Human Rights Commission, the Scottish Justices Association all raising genuine concerns with the SNP legislation. We believe a far more effective response is to focus on education and young people, working with the churches and football authorities on positive, practical, evidence-based measures that tackle the root causes of sectarianism as well robust application of existing laws."

Dave Scott, campaign director of anti-bigotry pressure group Nil By Mouth, said: "The debate around this bill has polarised the political parties but it has now become law and only time will tell how effective and enforceable it proves to be. However sectarianism goes far beyond football and facebook."

What does the bill do?

It creates two new offences - one dealing with offensive behaviour relating to football games, and a second on threatening communications.

Penalties range from a £40 fixed fine to a maximum of five years in prison and an unlimited fine.

The first offence deals with sectarian and other offensive chanting and behaviour likely to cause public disorder.

It covers conduct around football matches, inside grounds, and those travelling to and from stadiums - as well as fans watching games elsewhere, for example in pubs or on big screens outdoors.

In law, the legislation aims to take into account "expressing or inciting religious, racial or other forms of hatred" and "threatening behaviour or behaviour which would be offensive to any reasonable person".

It also creates potential for the imposition of football banning orders in every case.

The second offence deals with serious threats - including murder - made on the internet and elsewhere, and threats intended to incite religious hatred.

That would take in posts on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as specific websites, and actions such as sending bullets or images depicting serious harm in the post.

Scottish ministers say the legislation will not stop peaceful preaching or artistic performance, nor will it criminalise satirical jokes about religion or non-religious belief.

They also insist it will not stop peoples' right to criticise religion or non-religious beliefs, "even in harsh terms".

Decisions on sentencing in each case are a matter for the courts.

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