MOST Scots want controversial new hate crime laws scrapped, polling has found.

A new survey commissioned by the Alba Party found that 68.6% of people thought the Scottish Government should bin the Hate Crime Act with 31.4% in favour of keeping it, excluding those undecided.

Overall, 34.9% said they did not know whether the legislation should be kept.

Alba have launched a petition to have the Hate Crime Act scrapped.

The legislation introduces new offences of stirring up hatred against people based on their religion, transgender identity, and age.

READ MORE: Top law professor blames Police Scotland for hate crime misinformation

Experts say the threshold for prosecution is high and that it is unlikely many people will be prosecuted under the legislation.

Nonetheless, critics have raised concerns it could have a chilling effect on freedom of speech and top law professor James Chalmers of Glasgow University, who helped on the review which spawned the law, told the Sunday National the police had failed to emphasise the free speech protections in the Act.

Alba MSP Ash Regan was a key supporter of the legislation as it wound its way through Parliament when she was in the SNP and served as the community safety minister.

She has since changed her mind and alleged the SNP duped her into supporting it.

The National: Ash Regan

Regan (above) said: “The chilling effect of Humza Yousaf’s Hate Crime Act has already begun, and the original vision of the bill is lost.

“Today’s poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Scots want to see the act repealed. The First Minister must listen to the views of the people of Scotland and I would call on my former colleagues in the SNP, and others across Parliament, to now side with those that want to see this act repealed.

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“The Government has either displayed incompetence in the legislative process or they have deliberately misled to enable the bill to pass through parliament seamlessly.

“The root cause of this, and other legislative failures, is the erosion of good governance to safeguard our legislative processes. It’s time to put Scotland’s governance back onto a competent footing and the first step in doing so would be to repeal this act.”

A representative sample of 1085 adults were interviewed by polling firm Find Out Now from April 3 to April 5.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Hate Crime Act will help to tackle the harm caused by hatred and prejudice and provide greater protections for victims and communities.

"The legislation does not prevent people expressing controversial, challenging or offensive views, nor does it seek to stifle criticism or rigorous debate in any way, and the right to freedom of expression is specifically built into the Act.

“The Act has a high threshold for criminality. For the new offences in the legislation, it has to be proven that the behaviour is threatening or abusive and that it is intended to stir up hatred.

“We know the impact on those on the receiving end of such behaviour, whether it’s physical, verbal or online attacks, can be traumatic and life-changing and we want to protect those affected.”