As I’m sure most Celtic Fans will be aware the OBFCT Bill 2011 has been used and abused by Scotland‘s Police forces up and down the country to attack Celtic supporters. Fans who are left wondering why this is the case should read a fine letter Jeanette Findlay of the Celtic Trust wrote to Christine Grahame MSP. If you read the full document, you will get an idea of our concerns about this bill not only as football supporters but as Democrats, of whatever hue. We are concerned that the act will and has been used to stop fans from airing legitimate political views at or going to and from football matches. The arguments about whether or not there is a place at a socio-politico minded football club for expressions of political opinion by supporters is not up for debate here. Nor should it be. It is not the job of parliamentarians to legislate against expressions of political opinion in any arena, sporting or otherwise. That is a matter for us and we alone as Celtic supporters. I say socio-politico minded football club because of the Club’s roots. It was founded to put food on the tables of the poor of this City, and as such it’s very founding is a political act. I know some believe that the poor of this City are not worthy of such support from anyone and should be left to rot. However, that is only a political opinion, and we wouldn’t want to stop MSPs or anyone else from expressing that view. In fact, we would welcome the refreshing honesty.

You can find all the documents to download here… http://www.celtictrust.net/index.php?func=d_home_documents …at the bottom of the page. Pay particular attention to the OBFCT Data collection form. Use this form if you have become a victim of this bill so fans groups can collect data to bin this bill in 2014.

I’m going to quote the letter in full here anyway…

14 Sept 2012

Dear Ms Grahame,
I am writing to you regarding comments you made during the evidence session at the Justice Committee yesterday (13/9/11) and to seek clarification of those remarks.
During an exchange between you and Professor Tom Devine (which can be found at between 2hrs and 1minute and 2hrs and 6 minutes in the video recording) you question statistics provided by Professor Devine to the effect that Catholics are twice as likely to be the victims of sectarian aggravated assault. I think you are also arguing against his point that the existing legislation is sufficient.
You say that Professor Devine cannot use the statistics to uphold his assertion re the disproportionate number of Catholic victims of religious aggravated offences under the 2003 legislation because the existing legislation is more likely to lead to convictions of ‘Rangers fans’ and that it is not ‘even’ because ‘Celtic fans’ won’t be convicted of any offence because they are singing political songs. Professor Devine is clear that he is talking about Catholics and Protestants but you appear to interpret this as proxies for Celtic and Rangers supporters respectively.
Notwithstanding this point, there is a clear implication in this statement that there is something missing in the 2003 legislation because it does not appear to result in the same
number of convictions of Celtic supporters. Indeed you say at one point with reference to the 2003 legislation that it is ‘not even’. You appear not to consider the possibility that the reason more Rangers fans have been convicted under the 2003 Act (which is not what Professor Devine said but is nonetheless true) is because they, in large number, have sung bigoted and racist songs and Celtic fans (en masse) haven’t and don’t. To be blunt, you appear to suggest that there is something wrong with legislation that does not result in parity of numbers of arrests between Celtic supporter and Rangers supporters, ignoring, for the moment, any discussion of offensive behaviour by supporters of other teams. A number of our members as well as other Celtic supporters have concerns about the motivation for this Bill and the lack of clarity surrounding the definitions of offensive behaviour. Your comments have added to these concerns. I write to you today to ask you to reassure the public that this Bill is not, in whole or in part, motivated by a desire to see Celtic fans convicted in equal number to Rangers fans for offences specified precisely with that aim in mind.
I repeat my evidence to the Committee last week, Celtic fans do not, en masse, sing songs of hate against anyone. The only alleged ‘offensiveness’ that critics of the Celtic support are able to bring up is the singing of Republican songs. These songs, in and of themselves, are not aimed at Protestants or of adherents of any other religion, they are political in nature and, as such, the outlawing of them is potentially a breach of the right to freedom of expression. Such an unwarranted restriction of freedom of speech would, I am sure, be resisted not only by Celtic fans but by all democrats. I would add that the appropriateness of such songs being sung at a football match is an entirely separate question for Celtic supporters alone and one which does not involve any question of legality, nor does it require the scrutiny of the Parliament.
It would be unfortunate indeed if the public were left with the impression that the intention of the drafters of this Bill is to ensure that Scotland can ignore its anti-Catholic and anti-Irish problem by engineering parity of convictions between Celtic supporters and others and thereby rely on the dishonest ‘plague on both your houses’ approach which we have seen all to often.
I look forward to your reply.
Yours sincerely
Jeanette Findlay
Chair

I think that gives a fair enough although brief background to the issue. So far, I’m not aware of any reply from Ms Grahame. I will endeavour to find out and add it on to this post…