No time for complacency in fight against prejudice warns Commission

11th August 2011

There can be no let up in ensuring Scotland continues to tackle prejudice so that we can live up to our ideals of tolerance and fair play, says the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland.

The Commission’s comments follow the publication of the 2010 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey report on attitudes to discrimination and positive action, published today (Thursday 11th August).

Published by the Scottish Government and the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland and authored by the Scottish Centre for Social Research, the report explores public attitudes towards discrimination and positive action across key equality areas: disability, gender, race, religion or belief, age and sexual orientation.

Based on the data from the survey, some of the main findings show widespread tolerance among Scottish people:

  • 61% of Scots now think that gay marriage is acceptable -  an increase of 20 percentage points since 2002
  • The majority of people are opposed to forcing someone to retire before they want to
  • Most people (76%) agree that shops and banks should take action to reduce barriers to disabled people
  • Those who know someone who belongs to a particular group are less likely to express discriminatory attitudes towards them

However, the report also shows that:

  • While the majority of Scots (66 per cent) say that Scotland should do everything it can to get rid of all kinds of prejudice, 28% say that there is sometimes a good reason to be prejudiced
  • 1 in 5 Scots would be unhappy if someone with a mental health issue started a relationship with a close family member
  • Discriminatory views of transgender people and Gypsy/Travellers remain widespread
  • 31% said that ethnic minorities take jobs from others in Scotland, and
  • 37% said that Eastern Europeans take jobs from others in Scotland –an increase from 32% in 2006.
  • A majority felt that giving a suitably qualified disabled candidate an automatic interview for a job or only interviewing women for a post would be unfair (63% and 79% respectively)


Kaliani Lyle, Scotland Commissioner, Equality and Human Rights Commission said:

“We pride ourselves on being a welcoming, forward-thinking nation and a people who believe in the notion of tolerance and fair play.  However, even though a majority of Scots say we should do everything we can to tackle discrimination; a significant minority think that prejudice can be justified. The data published in this report should be a wake-up call to us all that, underneath the positive headline figures, the evidence suggests that suspicion and hostility still exists between our communities. We cannot afford to be complacent.  Prejudice is bad for us socially and economically, and if we are to have fair economic recovery then we all have a stake in making Scotland a place where everyone can thrive and succeed.  The Commission calls on the Scottish Government to continue to show leadership in striving to create a Scotland which is part of the future, and not stuck in the past.


Scottish Government Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said:

"There is no place in 21st century Scotland for prejudice or discrimination of any kind.  While this report shows that Scots are increasingly accepting of diversity, there are still  groups in society who experience discrimination and intolerance.  That is simply not acceptable, and we know that we cannot have the Scotland to which we aspire while these attitudes remain.  The Scottish Government will continue to work closely with the Equality & Human Rights Commission and other partners to rid Scotland of these outdated attitudes."

The Commission press team can be contacted on 0141 228 5979/ 0141 228 5938 or on 07970541369/07970787234.


Notes to editors:

  • A copy of the report can be found here : //
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission.
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights.
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It will also give advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.
  • The Scottish Centre for Social Research (ScotCen) is part of the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), Britain’s leading independent social research institute.
  • The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSA) aims to produce high quality survey data to inform public policy and academic study.  A representative sample of 1,495 adults resident in Scotland was interviewed face to face by ScotCen as part of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey between early June and early October 2010.  Further details about ScotCen and the Survey are available at


Last Updated: 16 Aug 2011