I WAS interested to read the article from Humza Yousaf ("The Parliament must come together on hate crime law", The Herald, September 7). He claims the bill "does not prevent people expressing controversial, challenging or offensive views". But how will the police, or the Faculty of Advocates, decide objectively whether someone's views will "stir up hatred" or is simply someone expressing their view without the intention to offend someone? If disagreement is being redefined as "hate speech", where does that leave our hard-won freedom of academic debate and expression of different views?

This reminds me of the millions of pounds that the Scottish Government wasted on the infamous Named Person legislation, in spite of all the warnings it was given – it eventually had to repeal that. Hopefully the Government will listen this time to all the warnings from the police, the Faculty of Advocates, religious organisations, and secular societies among others, about the threat this bill poses to freedom of expression, and consign this bill to the bin where it belongs.

William Campbell, Lenzie.

JUSTICE Secretary Humza Yousaf’s comment piece was misleading yet revealing.

He claims: “There is clear support behind the need for the bill.” What evidence does he provide for this? None at all.

He goes on: “Equality campaigners have welcomed our plan to legislate”. Of course they have. They believe in authoritarianism too; but free people do not welcome authoritarianism.

He continues: “Backing the principles of the new bill are those on the frontline of the justice system”. This is just not true.

And the cherry on top: “The bill does not stifle criticism or rigorous debate in any way”. Really? Who does he think he’s fooling?

It is sad to discover from his article that his experience of political life in Scotland has been marred by such venomous hatred and blood-curdling threats of violence. But threatening behaviour was already a crime before hate law was introduced.

And I simply do not believe Scots are as consumed with hatred as he suggests. The 886 common assaults he cites as evidence

would still be crimes if there was no hate crime legislation at all.

We do not need hate crime legislation. We need clear laws enforced by a confident police service that retains the trust of the people.

John McArthur, Glasgow G73.

THE SNP Government seems reluctant to use its prerogative to introduce legislation for the benefit of the people of Scotland. The one constant is the threat of legislation to impose a constitutional referendum on us – the constitution being a reserved matter. Laws that it did contemplate, such as those introducing the Named Person scheme and the new Gender Recognition scheme, have been so unpopular that they have been kicked into the long grass before elections. Now, Humza Yousaf is seeking to preserve some elements of his much-criticised Hate Crime Bill by compromising on others.

It has never been clear why this bill is necessary and why time and energy have been expended on it. The acceptable elements in it are already covered by existing legislation. This is the Offensive Behaviour at Football bill all over again, and that was a total waste of time and energy. And we are paying for it.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh EH14.