THE Hate Crime Act should be repealed, Alba have said, as they launched a petition to see the new legislation binned.

The party's MSP Ash Regan spoke out against new hate crime laws, which came into effect in Scotland on April 1 and for which she previously voted, amid controversy around how they will be implemented.

The Hate Crime Act creates new offences of “stirring up” hatred against protected characteristics including race, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and transgender identity.

As hundreds protested outside Holyrood against the law on Monday, JK Rowling issued a series of posts on social media in which she labelled trans women as men, and said she was “looking forward” to being arrested.

However, on Tuesday officers said there was no criminality in Rowling’s posts – though concerns from police remain.

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

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.

Alba have also argued that the new laws could “be weaponised” against people with “gender critical beliefs”.

The party’s only MSP, SNP defector Regan, said she had reversed her previous position and now sided with those who want the Hate Crime Act repealed.

In an article for The Times, she wrote: “A chilling effect occurs when the fear of police action stops a person from freely expressing a view. It’s ‘cancel culture’ before you even dare speak or write.

“We are witnessing comedians, social commentators, and the public eviscerating the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act across international, domestic and social media.”

The National: SNP minister Ash Regan

Regan (above) went on: “As a junior minister in 2021 I voted for a bill that promised a pathway to additional protections to make our open and welcoming Scotland safer for all.

“The reality, three years on, is that Scotland, our police and Parliament have been embarrassed, left to traverse a self-destructive pathway. The root cause of this, and other legislative failures, is the erosion of good governance to safeguard our legislative processes.

“I must now side with those who call for repeal. The chilling effect has begun, and the original vision of the bill is lost.”

Regan’s Alba Party have also launched a petition calling for the bill to be repealed.

On Tuesday, First Minister Humza Yousaf said racist graffiti aimed at him which appeared near to his family home was a “reminder of why we must, collectively, take a zero-tolerance approach to hatred”.

Yousaf said: “I do my best to shield my children from the racism and Islamophobia I face on a regular basis.

“That becomes increasingly difficult when racist graffiti targeting me appears near our family home.”

Previously, Yousaf – who in an earlier role as justice secretary spearheaded the legislation through the Scottish Parliament – insisted that the act has “got the right balance” between protections against hate crime and freedom of speech.