THE First Minister has hit out at Joe Rogan and Elon Musk amid their criticism of Scotland's new Hate Crime Act, branding them "right wing actors".

The Scottish Government’s new hate crime law came into effect today and  the legislation has raised concerns, with prominent critics including author JK Rowling, podcaster Joe Rogan and Elon Musk, the owner of X – formerly Twitter.

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act was passed by MSPs in 2021, consolidating existing hate crime legislation and creating a new offence of stirring up hatred against protected characteristics, although sex has been omitted in favour of a standalone bill designed to tackle misogyny.

Critics say it will have a chilling effect on free speech but Humza Yousaf has strongly defended the legislation - with a new defence in direct response to Rogan and Musk.

READ MORE: Does Scotland's new Hate Crime Bill ‘target’ artists?

Musk previously said the laws were misguided, sharing a post on his site based on media reports claiming artists and comedians would be targeted, writing: "An example of why it is so important to preserve free speech".

Rogan for his part claimed that stand-up shows would come under the scope of the Act and expressed scepticism about Police Scotland’s insistence officers would not “target” comedians.

When asked by LBC how he would respond to the pair's comments, Yousaf said: "They are right-wing actors of course and I think it's very clear, from particularly someone like Joe Rogan, that there's never going to be sympathy for the fact we are bringing in legislation that is clamping down on hatred.

The National:

"So I'm not surprised by his criticisms necessarily. What I would say is the threshold of criminality in terms of the new offences is very, very high indeed. Your behaviour has to be threatening or abusive and intended to stir up hatred.

"And I've asked this question of many people who've opposed the act: 'Can they give me an example of behaviour that is threatening or abusive and intends to stir up hatred that they don't think should be prosecuted?' And no answer comes.

READ MORE: Patrick Harvie defends 'wildly misrepresented' Hate Crime Act

"So the thresholds are very high, freedom of expression protections are embedded within the bill and of course police have clarified they're not going to be targeting comedians or playwrights as has been suggested by some who spread disinformation."

Yousaf added: "I'm very confident we've got a robust piece of legislation that will protect people against the riding tide of hatred we see right across the world."

Yousaf previously said “disinformation” has been spread about the Hate Crime Act and there is a “triple lock” to protect free speech.