THE Tories have vowed to “consider all avenues going forward” in their bid to kill off the Scottish Government’s Hate Crime Bill.

Their attempt to have it scrapped in Holyrood last night was defeated, with MSPs instead backing calls for “compromise to ensure that effective legislation can be agreed”.

The proposed legislation has come in for some fierce criticism.

The bill is in two parts. The first, which is widely supported, updates existing laws and adds to the groups currently specifically protected by hate crime laws.

It’s the second part of the legislation, which includes the creation of a new crime of stirring up hatred, which has sparked controversy.

Opponents say this could lead to criminal proceedings over comments deemed unintentionally offensive.

Roddy Dunlop QC, dean of the Faculty of Advocates, said last month that this could mean comedians who tell a “Scotsman, Irishman and Englishman” joke may face jail.

The Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, complained the changes would shatter trust in the police.

Yesterday, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf acknowledged there were “legitimate concerns” about the Bill.

However, he said an offence of stirring up racial hatred had existed in Scots law in relation to racial hatred since 1986.

Yousaf said: “I have received hateful abuse right throughout my life, but particularly in my political career.

“And most recently, these were not just harmful words, these were threats to me and my family, to fireball my house, to stab me, to kick me in the face until I bleed, all because of the colour of my skin.

“So I am afforded protection law, from people stirring up hatred against me due to the colour of my skin, due to my race, should the same protection not be afforded to people due to other protected characteristics?

“If you are disabled, if you are gay, if you are Jewish, should you not be afforded the same protection in law and have the law recognise an offence of stirring up hatred against you in the same way it protects me?”

He said that in 34 years he knew of no case where there had been a “controversial prosecution” of the stirring up offence, “and all we’re doing is essentially replicating language.”

Yousaf called on the Tories not to ”torpedo the bill”.

Instead, he asked them to work with the Government. “If we have to put extra sessions on, let’s do it. But let’s ensure that we give a very strong message to those who are the victims and targets of hatred that we will not abandon them.

“We will not walk away from this bill.”

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said there was a there a fundamental issue of free speech.

He said: “In any open liberal and democratic society, citizens should have the right to discuss, criticise and refute ideas, beliefs and practices in robust terms.

“Some of that may lead to individuals being offended. But there should not be in law, any right not to be offended.

“I have grave concerns about what is now termed the cancel culture, the attempt to close down debate to silence those whose views are deemed unacceptable.

“We see feminists like Germaine Greer, and JK Rowling becoming victims of the mob, who are not prepared to permit debate, even when what they are saying is simply a biological fact, on the question of gender.”

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said he didn’t “have very much interest” in hearing Fraser’s concerns “that others have been silenced when just this week, he has been questioning the funding of pro-equality organisations in Scotland, the same pro-equality organisations who have campaigned for my human rights and equality, which he has consistently voted against pretty much every time they have come up in this chamber.”

Speaking after the debate, Tory justice spokesperson Liam Kerr said his party would “consider all avenues going forward to address the serious concerns and flaws with the legislation.”