All opposition parties want to scrap the legislation, which was passed with SNP votes in 2011 in a bid to crack down on sectarianism.
Labour’s James Kelly put forward a members’ bill to have the act repealed, saying it is poorly written and unfairly targets football fans.
The members’ bill received varying reception from civil society organisations with some such as BEMIS stating that:
‘…the Act has not provided a transparent, accessible or balanced remedy. It has had a negligible to non-existent impact on race hate crime, including homophobia, disability or religious hatred while the reporting procedure of grouping characteristic aggravations alongside ‘breach of the peace’ charges devoid of additional ‘hate crime’ elements fuses two serious yet distinct issues undermining our ability to track trends of, challenge and robustly identify the nature of hate crime in Scotland.’
Other organisations including the Equality Network did not want to see the legislation repealed and were concerned that repeal of the Act would send the message that threatening or sectarian behaviour is somehow acceptable.
MSPs voted by 65 to 61 to back James Kelly’s bill in principle in its first chamber test.
The repeal bill will now move on for further consideration at committee level before a final vote of all MSPs.
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