THE CONSERVATIVES have officially pledged to repeal parts of the SNP’s controversial Hate Crime Act.

The legislation, which was passed by MSPs earlier this month was opposed by the Scottish Tories, Reform UK MSP Michelle Ballantyne and three Labour MSPs.

The new law extended existing hate crime legislation – making ‘stirring up’ of hatred offences applying to additional characteristics – age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristic.

The Conservatives have made an election pledge to repeal parts of the legislation they claim threatens free speech and will also seek to amend the law to give women more protection from hate crime.

READ MORE: MSPs vote through controversial hate crime legislation

The Hate Crime Act does not include sex as an “aggravating factor”, leaving critics to claim the law does not adequately protect women from hate crime.

The SNP said an independent working group led by Helena Kennedy will consider whether a standalone offence for hate crime based on sex or adding the characteristic to the Hate Crime Act would be most appropriate to address misogynist abuse.

Elements of the legislation have also been criticised by religious and cultural groups, writers, journalists, free speech campaigners, the legal profession and police.

The Scottish Conservatives have claimed the legislation means women are not entitled to the same protection as other protected characteristics of age, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

Scottish Conservative candidate for Glasgow Provan, Annie Wells, said: “I am appalled that women are not given the same protection as other groups. This cannot stand and we will do everything possible to fix this SNP law.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf: New Hate Crime Bill extends protection of people

“None of us question the need for genuine hate crime to be punished but we believe this act is dangerous and goes too far but, crucially, also fails to protect women.

“SNP Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf's hate crime law is the most controversial in the history of the Scottish Parliament, It is an affront to free speech that shames Scotland."

The Conservatives have specifically pointed to no protection in the legislation for a so-called “dwelling defence” — for things said in the privacy of your own home.

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr said: “This scandalous SNP law gives no defence to people for what they say in the privacy of their own homes.

“Yet it was backed by Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens. The Scottish Conservatives successfully fought to remove other extreme elements from the legislation before it was forced through.”

He added: “We are committed to repealing every single line that threatens free speech. We are on the side of the public, with nine out of 10 Scots cherishing free speech and recognising it as a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy.

“This shows the danger of an SNP majority at Holyrood and confirms that we are the only party strong enough to stand up to them.

“It the SNP get their way in this election they would have unchecked power and, as this bill proves, that is a terrifying prospect.”