HUMZA Yousaf has said he plans to give a letter by Yes activists and writers about the Hate Crime Bill "serious consideration".

Scotland's Justice Secretary responded after Yes campaigners including the actress, Elaine C Smith, playwright Alan Bissett, novelist Val McDermid and The National columnist Ruth Wishart were among more than 20 signatories to an open letter voicing criticism of the plans.

Others who have signed the letter include the comedian Rowan Atkinson, the broadcaster and presenter Nick Ross, the gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, the novelist Christopher Brookmyre and the academic Professor AC Grayling.

They fear the bill could undermine free speech and artistic expression and say measures are needed in the legislation to protect these rights.

READ MORE: Yes writers and artists hit out over Hate Crime Bill

Yousaf tweeted: "This letter from various artists will be given serious consideration. Their key concern seems to be that stirring up offences should be restricted to intent only. It is an area of Bill I will reflect further on. Vital we listen to the many voices of groups targetted by hate."

The letter is co-ordinated by the Humanist Society and published in The National today. It also highlights concern over the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill’s proposal to not require proof of intent over the proposed stirring up offences.

READ MORE: We fear new Hate Crime Bill could stifle freedom of expression

Fraser Sutherland, chief executive of Humanist Society Scotland said: “The Bill as proposed has behind it some sound intentions, however it is clear from the broad support to our joint letter that concerns remain about poorly drafted provisions.

“The failure of the bill to require intent to be proven in court on some offences risks a significant chilling effect on free expression.

“This is why the UN Rabat Plan has six tests on controlling hate speech including that any laws must ensure intent is proven.

“This strikes a sensible balance between protecting individuals from hate crime and protecting freedom of expression and the bill needs amending to properly achieve this.”

Arts administrator Dame Seona Reid, the artistic director of Dundee Rep, Andrew Paton along with Cartoonists Rights International and Prof Timothy Garden Ash also signed the letter.