Hate crime legislation has become increasingly prevelant in Western societies, but remain controversial. In some countries like Canada, France, and Germany, hate crime legislation has had the side effect of chilling free speech while others argue that these laws are, in effect, restrictions on free "thought" since they depend entirely on motive. Moreover, motive is often difficult to ascertain. Others have posited that treating defendents and victims differently based on race is in violation of equal protections laws which exist in many countries as well. That said, even the ACLU has supported hate crime laws when the scope of the law is narrow and motive is well defined.
Even South Park weighed in with the April 2000 episode, Cartman's Silly Hate Crime. That one is available in the US for streaming here.
Some differing opinions have come from The Guardian and Gavin Baddeley.