How are the SNP tackling sectarianism in Scotland?
The SNP Scottish Government understands the importance of education in eradicating hate crime and speech, including sectarianism, from modern Scottish society. We have invested £12.5 million investment to a range of programmes over the last five years to March 2017 – more than any other government. Much of the funding for tackling sectarianism has been invested in nationwide community projects and in efforts to understand the specific causes and impact of sectarianism in Scottish society.
The Scottish Government believe that action is required right across Scottish society to tackle this issue, and one aspect of this has been the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, which seeks to stop the small minority of individuals who disrupt football with their behaviour.
The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act addresses much more than just sectarianism and the singing of offensive songs - it is an important tool for police and prosecutors. Evidence shows strong public support for the Act, the repeal of which would leave a significant gap in effectively prosecuting hate crime.
The SNP will continue to consider ways to improve the application of the Act based on evidence, while other parties would rather see us remove legislation that tackles sectarianism, prejudice and discrimination whilst offering no alternative in its place.
In January 2017, the Scottish Government announced that one of Scotland’s most senior judges, Lord Bracadale, would undertake a review of existing laws covering hate crime. This review will cover a number of laws, including the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act.