A new law to make misogynistic harassment an offence is to be considered by MSPs.

It would mean that harassment of women based on prejudice could be added to the list of offences under hate crime laws.

It was suggested instead, as an offence by women’s groups after Lord Bracadale recommended intruding gender hate as an offence in a review of the law.

The new Hate Crime Bill will extend the law from categories including race, religion, disability and sexual orientation.

It will also introduce a new offence of “stirring up” hatred for all categories under the law. Just now “stirring up” hatred only applies to racially motivated crime.

‘Stirring up’ of hatred is behaviour that encourages others to hate a particular group.

Humza Yousaf, Justice Secretary, said: “This new Hate Crime Bill is an important milestone. By creating robust laws for the justice system, Parliament will send a strong message to victims, perpetrators, communities and to wider society that offences motivated by prejudice will be treated seriously and will not be tolerated.

“Stirring up of hatred can contribute to a social atmosphere in which discrimination is accepted as normal. Our legislation, if passed, would offer greater protection for those who experience this kind of behaviour. We all have a responsibility to challenge prejudice in order to ensure Scotland is the inclusive and respectful society we want it to be.”

A working group will be set up to consider how the criminal justice system deals with misogyny, including whether there are gaps in the law that could be filled with a specific offence on misogynistic harassment.

Mr Yousaf added: “I am also clear that we must do more to tackle misogyny and the Scottish Government is committed in principle to developing a standalone offence which would criminalise serious misogynistic harassment. We are establishing a working group to take this forward and further details of this will be announced in due course.”

When the law was being reviewed leading women’s groups said that to support legislation on domestic abuse and violence against women then other aspects of attitudes towards women had to be taken into account.

Scottish Women’s Aid said if violence against women was to be ended then other behaviour that leads to it and causes it must be tackled.

Marsha Scott, Chief executive had said: “ Misogynistic abuse surrounds and supports domestic abuse and the attitudes about women and girls that allow violence against women to flourish in Scotland.

Rape crisis also said that various levels of misogyny needed action.

Sandy Brindley, chief executive said: “Women and girls are facing epidemic levels of misogynistic abuse, online, in the streets, on public transport and in our schools. We think there is a need for a bolder approach to considering how the law can better protect women’s rights.”

The working group will be set up and its remit decided as soon as it is possible to do so as the Scottish Government focuses on tackling the coronavirus pandemic.