Harry Potter author JK Rowling has accused Humza Yousaf of “showing absolute contempt for women” after he said trans women would be covered by the Scottish Government’s new misogyny law.

The First Minister’s comments came as he defended the new Hate Crime legislation and the decision not to include sex as a protected characteristic.

He told the BBC that the government would be coming forward with a standalone misogyny Bill with “urgency and pace”.

READ MORE: Justice Minister admits Hate Crime information could have been better

Asked if this legislation would also cover trans women, Mr Yousaf said it would.

“Women and girls will be protected and, of course, trans women will also be protected as well because they will often also be the ones who suffer from threats of rape, for example, or threats of disfigurement,” he said.

“It may be the case that a trans woman when for example they’re walking down the street and a threat of rape is made against them, the man who’s making the threat of rape against them doesn’t know if they’re a trans woman, they will very simply make that threat because their perception of that person is as a woman,” the First Minister added.

On X, Ms Rowling tweeted: “Once again, @HumzaYousaf makes his absolute contempt for women and their rights clear. Women were excluded from his nonsensical hate crime law, now he introduces a 'misogyny law' designed to also protect men.”

During the Hate Crime and Public Order Act’s passage through Holyrood, a number of women’s groups, including Engender and Rape Crisis Scotland, argued against making sex a protected characteristic, stating that a separate law was necessary.

Though other campaigners, women's groups and politicians disagreed.

The Scottish Government commissioned Baroness Helena Kennedy to look into the need for legislation. She made a number of recommendations.

It was thought that the Bill could be brought to Holyrood ahead of the summer recess, but the timetable is now less certain.

In the chamber at Holyrood, Justice Secretary Angela Constance said she hoped to introduce it as soon as possible.

The row came as Police Scotland reported a “significant reduction” in the number of calls being made under the new hate crime laws.

The force received 1,832 online hate reports between April 8 and April 14, down from 7,152 the previous week, a fall of around 75%.

The “vast majority” were anonymous, with most resulting in no further action being taken.

Some 213 hate crimes were recorded, down from 240.

Both Mr Yousaf and Ms Constance said the communication around the introduction of the new legislation could have been clearer.

The First Minister claimed “bad faith actors” had submitted “vexatious” complaints in the early days of the Act’s implementation, but he told journalists at the STUC Congress in Dundee the Government would reflect on its communications around the legislation.

“I think that they were always going to put in some vexatious complaints when the Act first came into force and there’s some reflection in Government that we could have done more in relation to proactive comms, I think that’s a fair challenge back,” he said.

“But even if we had done all the comms in the world, that wouldn’t have stopped for example … members of the far right co-ordinating a campaign to put in vexatious complaints, that was always going to tail off, hence why the police have said there has been a minimal impact on frontline policing.

“Some of the misinformation, I’m sure, has not been deliberate but there has been some that has.”

In a statement to Holyrood later, Justice Secretary Angela Constance added: “I accept that the Scottish Government could have done more to inform people about this Act as well as our wider approach to tackling hate crime and prejudice."

READ MORE: Scottish Government considering ban on puberty blockers

Meanwhile, Mr Yousaf also indicated that Scotland could soon ban puberty blockers.

The First Minister said the future use of the controversial treatment to halt the production of estrogen or testosterone in teenagers was being considered.

One of the central conclusions in the review by Dr Hilary Cass into how NHS England dealt with young people questioning their gender identity was that there was no good evidence to support the practice of prescribing the medicine to under-18s.

Mr Yousaf said: “Every recommendation that Dr Cass makes will be considered as part of that consideration of the entire report including the recommendations that she makes in relation to puberty blockers, and that is one element of the recommendations that Dr Cass makes.

“There’s a number of recommendations – all of them will be given consideration.”