A Scottish Government minister has criticised the response to the Hate Crime Act from those opposed to the new legislation as "spurious, performative nonsense".

Including the JK Rowling in his assessment of the opposition to the Act, Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie said "toxic forces of hatred" are "dragging back debate" in Scotland and the UK.

Lorna Slater, also co-convenor and a minister, added that the response to the law, which came into force on April 1, had been "sad and frustrating".

She went on to apologise to gender fluid and trans people for failing to create a world in which they feel safe.

Mr Harvie referred to hate crime legislation he championed in a private member's bill 15 years ago and referred to an incident in August last year where homophobic abuse was levelled at him during a televised BBC interview.

The incident was investigated by Police Scotland.

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Mr Harvie said: "You had Tory MSPs giving you rent-a-quote lines for the right wing press, describing that as an 'alleged' incident and claiming it as evidence that the police were taking political personal instruction from ministers.

"It was completely spurious nonsense, which has happened again this week.

"Opponents of the law know they're lying. It's very, very deliberate.

"They've known through all of this that the threshold for prosecution under this legislation is high and rightly so."

He went on: "There are specific protections for freedom of expression and rightly so, and not every expression of prejudice or nastiness or offensiveness is criminalised by it.

"And yet they've been trying to create the impression that is the case, using this kind of goading attitude of 'go on then, arrest me', in this kind of petulant manner.

"And then when they're not arrested for something that clearly isn't a criminal offence, trying to claim some sort of victory.

"It is performative. And if this was without consequence, it would just be a shallow, trivial game.

"But it has consequence, because this kind of behaviour and the media furore that they are deliberately cultivating around it emboldens those in our society who genuinely do pose a threat of real world abuse and violence against marginalised and minoritised groups in our society."

On the day the legislation came into force, Ms Rowling posted a thread on X that referred to several high profile trans women as men and challenged Police Scotland to arrest her. The force said there was no evidence of criminality and that the event would not be logged as a non-crime hate incident.

Asked if he would include the Harry Potter author JK Rowling, Mr Harvie said "yes" and added: "Anyone with a high profile platform needs to think, 'Am I creating more division here, or am I trying to create understanding and empathy?'

"I would appeal to anybody, whether it's a cultural figure, a politician, a media outlet, I would encourage everybody who has a voice in this issue to emphasise how we create empathy and understanding rather than how we sow more division."

Mr Harvie said that the west of Scotland he grew up in was not a safe place for LGBTQ+ people and that he has experienced homophobia throughout his political career.

However, he added, progress has been and continues to be made.

He said: "The fact that we're being dragged backwards in the last few years, that's not an accident, it is being deliberately done.

"They have been beaten before, these kind of toxic forces of hatred.

"The forces of progression and of empathy and solidarity and equality can win because it's happened before.

"I don't think that we should get into some sort of fatalistic view that that kind of divisiveness is destined to win."

Ms Slater said: "I feel like I want to apologise to our trans and gender fluid siblings that we haven't yet made a world that's fully safe for them.

"But we're working on it, we're trying."

She added: "It's very sad and frustrating that people are taking a bill [SIC], the legislation that's designed to protect people from abuse and harassment as they go about their normal daily lives, in this way.

"We need to do everything in our power to enable people to go about their lives without abuse and harassment.

"So it is a bit appalling that people misrepresented the bill as if they want to be allowed to do those things.

"I don't want to live in a country like that. I want to live in a country where everybody can feel safe."

In response, deputy chair of the Scottish Conservatives Pam Gosal said: “As a government minister Patrick Harvie should not be dismissing many legitimate concerns over the Hate Crime Act.

“He is making unfounded and offensive claims about violence occurring as a result of people being opposed to Humza Yousaf's law and he should choose such language far more carefully.

"Police officers, legal experts and artists have all voiced concerns about this law's threat to free speech but the Green co-leader appears unwilling to listen to any of them.”