Police Scotland say 'we have plan to minimise disruption' after Ally McCoist says he will break new hate crime law at upcoming Rangers vs Celtic derby at Ibrox this Sunday

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​​Police in Scotland have told the News Letter they have a plan to "minimise any disruption to the community" during the upcoming Rangers v Celtic clash, after remarks about law-breaking by Ally McCoist.

The former Rangers player and manager declared on TalkSport today that he and the rest of the club's supporters will "commit a breach" of Scotland's new "hate crime" law at the upcoming fixture at Ibrox.

Among the most vocal supporters of the new law are transgender activists and their fellow travellers, who say it is needed to stem "a rising tide of hate" (in the words of SNP leader Humza Yousaf).

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Meanwhile, arguably its leading opponent is JK Rowling, Scotland's most successful writer, who has publicly pledged to ignore the law as she continues her criticism of trans activists.

Former Rangers player Ally McCoist has joined in the condemnation of Scotland's new hate crime lawFormer Rangers player Ally McCoist has joined in the condemnation of Scotland's new hate crime law
Former Rangers player Ally McCoist has joined in the condemnation of Scotland's new hate crime law

It is not clear how Mr McCoist intends to break the new law, or why he thinks fans will do so in unison.

On TalkSport he praised JK Rowling “for calling a man a man, and a woman a woman”, adding: “More strength to that woman! She should be running the country!”

He declared the “hate crime” bill to be “crazy”, saying “everybody who has two brain cells in their head knows it is absolute madness”.

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"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 / Celtic game we are all going to,” he said.

In response, Police Scotland said: “An appropriate policing plan is in place to maintain public safety and minimise any disruption to the community ahead of the fixture at Ibrox on Sunday.

"We continue to work closely with a range of partners ahead of the match."


The law took effect on April Fools’ Day this week, but was actually passed back in 2021 in the Scottish Parliament by 82 votes to 32, with those in favour being the SNP, Labour, LibDems and Greens, and those against being the Tories.

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It expands existing hate crime law to create a new offence of “stirring up hatred” against people.

This means it is a crime to “communicate” anything which is “threatening, abusive or insulting” about race or nationality if it is merely “likely” to stir up “hatred”.

Meanwhile it is a crime to “communicate” anything which is “threatening or abusive” about people’s religion, age, transgender status, and disability with the “intent” to stir up “hatred”.

The act defines “transgender” as “a female-to-male transgender person; a male-to-female transgender person; a non-binary person; a person who cross-dresses”.

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For example, taken literally, the law appears to mean the following:

If a person in Scotland makes a remark to anybody else that is “abusive” about fully-intact males playing on female sports teams, they may now have committed a crime, regardless of whether this remark was online, in public, or in the privacy of their own home.

Theoretically, an offender can be jailed for seven years.


The law is part of a major, decade-long push to enact such laws across the British Isles.

Leo Varadkar had been attempting to bring in a similar law in the Republic when he quit last week; it remains to be seen if it can actually be passed, given that political support is ebbing away (more on that here):

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Across the UK at large, trans activists have been pushing for a law to criminalise "conversion therapy".

Whilst this used to mean attempting to change someone's sexual orientation, trans activists also regard a refusal to "affirm" someone's new self-declared gender as "conversion therapy" too.

Initially supported by the Tories, the party has since cooled on the idea amid increasing public opposition.

In Northern Ireland, Alliance's justice minister Naomi Long has been suggesting a new "hate crime" law for several years.

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In 2019 a judge, Desmond Marrinan had been appointed to come up with proposals for reforming the law.

He made a raft of proposals for hate crime law to be re-written, including extending it to cover transgender identities.

Mrs Long then held a consultation on this in 2022.

Now it appears to be a priority for her since Stormont returned in February this year.

When she was re-appointed to the justice post again, she said that a new “hate crime” law “needs progressed”.