A majority of Holyrood's Justice Committee has backed James Kelly MSP’s Bill repealing the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act.
While strongly condemning sectarian behaviour, the majority of the Committee found that the original Act was flawed, and other existing laws largely capture the behaviours it criminalises.
With a majority of the Committee backing the Bill at this first stage, it will now progress through Parliament, with the possibility of the Bill being amended, before a final Parliamentary debate and binding vote.
Committee Convener Margaret Mitchell MSP, said:
"The Committee heard a wide range of opposing views during our scrutiny of the Bill. We are grateful to the individuals and organisations who shared their views with us.
“Whether the Act is finally repealed or not, the message that came through from the vast majority of witnesses was that this legislation needs to be changed.
“While there is disagreement over the best way to proceed, the Committee is united in its desire to have laws that help the police and prosecutors to clamp down on unacceptable behaviour. However, it is vitally important that our laws actually improve relationships between various groups within society, including law enforcement and sports fans.
“The Bill will now proceed to its next stage, with a majority of Members supporting it.”
The Committee also made a number of other unanimous recommendations that would apply whether or not the Act is repealed. These include an appeal to the Scottish Government to define sectarianism in law and to bring forward amendments to clear up some of the uncertainty if the current Act is kept.
Information including written submissions, briefings, Official Reports and meeting papers are available here.
The Committee's report is available here.