Sectarianism in Scotland goes beyond football matches and working class west coast communities, academics have told MSPs.

Members of an advisory group set up by the Scottish Government to look at the issue say it needs to be tackled with the same conviction as racism and homophobia.

They were giving evidence on their report, published at the end of last year, to Holyrood's Equal Opportunities Committee.

Loading article content

The Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland was set up by Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham to look at ways to address the problem of sectarianism in Scottish society.

Dr Duncan Morrow, chair of the group, told the committee that while sectarianism has religious origins from which it cannot be separated, it is not "the whole story".

"With some people there is a tendency to think this is limited to the 90 minutes bigotry idea and working class people in the west of Scotland.

"It certainly is true that at football matches in the west of Scotland it takes on a very aggressive face, nobody is doubting that.

"On the other side, to limit it to that and to simply say that's all that it is and it comes from nowhere else, and it stops at that point, is for us not real and does not reflect reality."

Recommendations made by the group include strong civic leadership on the issue, funding from governing bodies and football clubs to tackle sectarianism in grassroots football, and action from local authorities to ensure there is a balance between the right to march and the right of communities to go about their business in peace.

It has also called for further research into the impact of sectarianism in Scotland, including the monitoring of sectarian attitudes and activity.