This is our blog entry on anti-sectarian laws.
The former Labour home secretary tried to stop sectarian chants and songs in 1991 but this was unsuccessful. The Scottish government are now trying to find ways to stamp them out.
The SNP decided to introduce an Offensive Behaviour at Football Bill, with jail terms of up to five years and unlimited fines, in an attempt to crack down on sectarian offences. John Reid, the former Celtic chairman, warned that banning sectarian singing and chanting while watching football matches could have repercussions well beyond a football stadium:
“If you are in a hotel the night before a game and you are not going to the game, there are things that you can do which will not be illegal. But if you are there at the hotel with the purposes of going to the game, it will be illegal.
“If you leave the country and happen to be watching the football match and you say certain things, then it might be a criminal offence when you get back to this country!”
Scotland’s humiliating problem has got out of had recently. Some people take football way too far and start fights over football. Even some extremists have sent parcel bombs to Celtic manager Neil Lennon, and some famous Celtic fans.
At the moment there are no confirmed sectarian laws apart from when people can be arrested for racially or religiously aggravated breach of the peace. The new laws would make it an offence to sing certain songs and say certain things at football matches.
Some people reacted badly at this and sang louder than before, others set up fans groups to oppose the bill, such as ‘Fans Against Criminalisation‘.