24 June 2011
Alliance welcomes delay of sectarianism Bill
The Evangelical Alliance in Scotland has welcomed the Scottish government's decision to delay a Bill to tackle sectarian violence between football fans. The Alliance is urging the government to hear a broader range of views as the Bill is opened up to scrutiny over the next six months.
The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill intends to stop football-related sectarian behaviour and communications regarded as offensive and threatening.
The government had been strongly criticised for attempting to rush the Bill through in a matter of days so that it would be made law before the start of the football season next month (July).
Alistair Stevenson, Public Policy Officer for the Evangelical Alliance in Scotland, said: "While we welcome the intended spirit of the law, as it stands, the bill lacks clarity, direction and has yet to stand up to much needed scrutiny. More importantly, aspects of the Bill could have unintended consequences, including infringing freedom of speech. We want to make sure churches, religious groups and others get an opportunity to have their say."
Alliance member CARE, alongside the Christian Institute, took legal action against the Scottish government over concerns that the Bill went far beyond its intended remit of curbing sectarian violence in football. They have now halted their court action.
Alistair Stevenson said: "We are extremely encouraged that the government has acknowledged the wide spread concerns over aspects of the Bill and is now willing to engage in appropriate dialogue and consultation. We commend the government for its willingness to listen in an endeavour to get the legislation right."
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Notes to Editors
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.