UK / Scotland: Offensive football songs criminalised

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Scotland, United Kingdom:


Offensive football songs criminalised

‘Sectarian’ chanting in football will be banned in Scotland, and football fans could be imprisoned for up to six years for singing offensive songs, if the socalled ‘Offensive Behaviour at Football Bill’ is passed in the Scottish Parliament.

In June 2011, the Scottish Parliament published proposals for new legislation aimed at tackling sectarianism, which they hope to pass before the end of 2011. ‘The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill’ has received a mixed reception from the public and within sport.

The Scottish authorities seek to clamp down on ‘sectarianism’ in football – where rival fans chant or sing verses with references to the politico-religious conflict across the water in Northern Ireland.
The legislation will also include bans on displays or banners that have a sectarian connotation.

Football fans and libertarians are combining to oppose the Scottish government’s proposed anti-sectarian law. They say the bill is “an abuse of law by politicians determined to be seen to ‘do something’ about questionable problems, at the expense of free speech and indeed common sense.”

The lyrics of a song which has already been banned from public utterance in Scotland goes:

    Hullo, Hullo, we are the Billy Boys
    Hullo, Hullo, you’ll know us by our noise
    We’re up to our knees in fenian blood
    Surrender or you’ll die
    For we are the Brigton Derry Boys

“The danger in Scotland is that the authorities will miss the point, aiming for an easy, politically correct target while missing the real issue, which is violence,” wrote Tom Miers, editor of The Free Society, in a comment entitled ‘Censorship enters the terraces’

“The Offensive Behaviour at Football Bill is being drafted in the names of tolerance and diversity. But it is itself an exercise in snobbish intolerance that will have a corrosive effect on society,” wrote Stuart Waiton, a Sociology and Criminology Lecturer at the University of Abertay Dundee, and co-founder of Take a Liberty.



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More information

Belfast Telegraph – 6 July 2011:

‘Sectarianism law long overdue, says Ibrox legend Hateley’

Take a Liberty – 2011:

‘Petition Against The Offensive Behaviour In Football Bill’

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