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Ally McCoist 'guarantees' he will breach Hate Crime Act at Rangers vs Celtic game

Former footballer and pundit Ally McCoist has said he will breach the Hate Crime Act at the Rangers vs Celtic Old Firm game <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Former footballer and pundit Ally McCoist has said he will breach the Hate Crime Act at the Rangers vs Celtic Old Firm game (Image: PA)

ALLY McCoist has “guaranteed” that he will breach the Hate Crime Act at the upcoming Scottish Premiership game between Celtic and Rangers.

The Scotland hall-of-famer hit out at the controversial new legislation on Tuesday, one day after it officially came into effect.

Passed in March 2021, the Hate Crime Act has now brought in new offences of “stirring up” hatred against protected characteristics including race, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and transgender identity.

It has proven controversial, with around 300 people attending a protest outside Holyrood on Monday and Harry Potter writer JK Rowling challenging Scottish police to arrest her.

Speaking on TalkSport, former Rangers star McCoist said he backed Rowling.

READ MORE: Hate Crime Act 'likely to enhance, not limit freedoms', barrister argues

He told host Jeff Stelling: “We've now got a hate bill in Scotland – JK Rowling, more strength for calling a man a man and a woman a woman, more strength to that woman.

"She should be running the country! The campaign starts right now for JK Rowling to start the country.

"We've got a hate bill, by the way, a hate bill has been passed in the country yesterday, and I can guarantee you, next Sunday at Ibrox, I along with 48,000 will be committing a breach of that hate bill in the particular Rangers vs Celtic game that we are all going to.

"It is madness."

Rangers and Celtic are set to play an Old Firm game at Ibrox (below) on Sunday April 7, with Rangers trailing at the top of the Scottish Premiership by just one point.

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Stelling suggested that the Hate Crime Act would be impossible to enforce, leading McCoist to go on: "That's exactly what the police think about it.

"The police spokesperson has come out and more and less said that – he obviously can't because he'll get himself in trouble.

"He has implied that everybody that’s got two brain cells in their head knows it's absolute madness.”

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) has claimed that training provided to officers expected to police the act has not been sufficient, while the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (ASPS) has raised fears about the legislation being weaponised for political purposes.

First Minister Humza Yousaf – who in a previous role as justice secretary spearheaded the legislation through the Scottish Parliament – insisted that the act has “the right balance” between protections against hate crime and freedom of speech.

Yousaf urged people not to use the new legislation to make vexatious complaints, saying these will be taken seriously by the police.

He has also claimed there is “disinformation” being spread about the act and what it entails, claiming there is a “triple lock” on protection for freedom of speech.

This includes an explicit clause in the legislation, a defence for the accused’s behaviour being “reasonable”, and that the act is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.