THE media focus on JK Rowling’s tweets over the Hate Crime Act has been “unhelpful”, Lorna Slater has said.

The Scottish Greens co-leader was speaking to The National in an exclusive interview with fellow co-leader Patrick Harvie. Both agreed that that the discourse and media coverage surrounding the bill’s implementation could be “harmful” to marginalised communities.

“For those who are responsible, I am appealing to them to take a step back, take a breath and think about the consequences of their actions,” Harvie added. 

On April 1, the day the Hate Crime Act came into effect, Rowling posted a series of tweets in which she labelled trans women as men and dared Police Scotland to arrest her.

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The act had made it an offence to stir up hatred against protected characteristics, including race, age, disability, and gender identity.

Rowling’s posts were reported to the police, but the force deemed that no criminality had taken place and further said they would not record a “non-crime hate incident” against her name.

This led to a flurry of media coverage and debate on social media.

“The way that the furore around this has been deliberately whipped up by people cultivating and propagating misinformation, deliberately trying to confuse people about what the legislation says, almost goading the police when they say something offensive, it is performative,” Harvie said.

“And if this was just a consequence-free bit of trivial knock about politics, then it would just be something shallow and pathetic. But it isn't consequence free.”

The National: The future of the power-sharing deal between the Scottish Greens and the SNP is set to be determined, Patrick Harvie said. (Jane Barlow/PA)

He added: “The unnecessary divisiveness that they are cultivating has real world consequences because it emboldens those for whom this is not just a political game. Those who genuinely pose a real threat of harassment of abuse and of violence against marginalised minority groups. They are emboldened by this kind of deliberately cultivated cultural toxicity.”

Slater, meanwhile, addressed an article by the Daily Express which said a lawyer warned that all those attending this weekend's Old Firm derby match between Rangers and Celtic could need to be arrested under the hate crime law.

She was also questioned on the article’s claims on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland on Friday.

“That is neither the intention of the law nor anybody's expectation that that is how police in Scotland would enforce the law,” Slater said.

“Of course, it isn't.”

“It is intended to prevent abuse against some of the most disadvantaged people.”

She added: “The change in the law is relatively minor and something that should have been done a very long time ago.”

“It’s strange that this has come about, but I'm hoping that we are another step towards making the world safe for everybody.

“I feel like I want to apologise to trans people, disabled people, gender fluid people out there who are not able to go about their lives, to go to the shops, to go to school and work and feel safe because we have failed to make a society that is safe for them.

“But this is a step along that path.”