‘Sectarianism is a Turn Off’ – that’s the message of a new online campaign aimed at encouraging young people to consider how sectarian attitudes and language can impact on their love lives.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, and use of online dating apps grows, leading charity Nil by Mouth have teamed up with students from City of Glasgow College to launch the campaign highlighting how sectarianism can impact on life choices and personal relationships. The charity will run adverts across a range of social media platforms and dating apps over the next few weeks in an effort to hammer home the message that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Students Bobbi Parks, Grace Smith, Ali Pearce launch the ‘Sectarianism is a Turn Off’ Campaign

The campaign was the winning entry in the charity’s Pitch Perfect competition in conjunction with the college which sees marketing students compete to devise a campaign aimed at raising awareness of sectarianism across west central Scotland. Creators Alison Pearce, Amanda Slaven, Bobbi Parks and Grace Smith wanted to look beyond football and violence and drew on the experiences of their friends and classmates to discover how use of sectarian language or posting sectarian content online impacted on how they would view someone as a potential love match.

The all-female team today launched their ‘Sectarianism is a Turn Off’ campaign in Glasgow City Centre and are urging others to think about what impression such behaviour gives to people they may be attracted too and the consequences for their own reputation. The campaign comes just a few week after research conducted by the Humanist Society of Scotland showed that around 10% of people in Scotland would not accept someone of a different religion marrying a relative.

Nil by Mouth was set up by former Evening Times ‘Scotswoman of the Year’ Cara Henderson in response to the brutal sectarian murder of her school friend Mark Scott in 1995 as he made his way home from a football match in the city. Mark’s killer singled him out because of the colour of the scarf he was wearing. Since then the charity has worked with tens of thousands of people to highlight the negative impact of sectarian attitudes on society.

Nil by Mouth Campaign Director Dave Scott said:
‘We know that sectarian attitudes have lingered over relationships here for decades. One of the most depressingly recurring themes at our events has been people reflecting on how family attitudes toward boyfriends and girlfriends were often shaped by perceptions such as what school they went too, football team they supported or even their name. This campaign is not only trying to get people to stop and think about how their attitudes can impact on others but also on their own chances of happiness. If you frequently use sectarian language or post abuse on the internet people will hear and see that and an awful lot of people will think less of you including potential partners.  We’ll be running this campaign across several social media sites in an effort to ensure that we reach as many people as possible.’

Winner Alison Pearce said:
‘We created this campaign because we wanted to make people think about their own attitudes and try and move discussion of this issue away from football and violence. We’ve all came across people who either use sectarian language in company or post sectarian abuse online and there’s no getting away from the fact that it is a huge turn off for the vast majority of people. Loads of people are using dating apps like Tinder and Bumble these days and it’s no secret that users will go one sites like Facebook and Twitter to get more of a sense of the person who may be liking their profiles. If they see that you spend your time abusing others just because that are different to you it’ll hardly encourage them to return your interest. Our message is don’t let blind hate cost you a first date.’