Equality Commission welcomes improvement in social attitudes in Scotland

Published: 30 Sep 2016

The Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in Scotland today welcomed the findings of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey which showed that overall, discriminatory attitudes held by Scottish people are changing for the better.

However, the Commission also expressed concern about the ongoing levels of deep and sustained prejudice focused on some Scots, including those with mental health conditions, the transgender community and Gypsy/Travellers.

Alastair Pringle, Director of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Scotland said:

"For the most part this is a very positive report with people’s self-reported attitudes towards difference and diversity improving greatly. We are particularly pleased to note the improvement in attitudes towards gay, lesbian and bisexual people and that attitudes in general towards Scotland’s black and ethnic minority community remain positive.

However, we have not seen similar improvements towards other groups where negative attitudes remain stubbornly entrenched, in particular for Gypsy/Travellers, people with mental health problems and transgender people.

It’s clear that policies which bring people together reduce prejudice through greater contact. But for some groups, where the prejudice is so deeply engrained, this won’t be enough. We need to be taking specific action to improve attitudes, for example, towards people with mental health problems and Gypsy/Travellers.

Scotland can’t afford prejudice and discrimination – it causes crime, costs us money, restricts lives, and prevents people from playing their part in Scottish society and the economy. It is everyone’s business to make this a thing of the past.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission have worked with the Scottish Government since 2002, part funding this large scale analysis into public attitudes surrounding prejudice and discrimination, which is released every 4 to 5 years. By asking the same questions in each survey it enables us to track attitudes towards difference over time.

Headlines from the report include:

  • 31% were unhappy about a close relative marrying or forming a long-term relationship with a Gypsy Traveller and 19% with someone who experiences depression. However only 16% would now be unhappy about a close relative entering into a long term same sex relationship, down from 55% in 2010.
  • 34% said that a Gypsy/Traveller would be an unsuitable primary school teacher, and 20% felt someone who had undergone a sex change would be.

Alastair Pringle continued:

“Last week’s Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion report focused on the need for a concerted, multi-agency response to these issues. The findings in the Scottish Social Attitude Survey make it clear that this is the correct approach and that tackling prejudice is everyone’s business. We all have a role to play, from our own social circle of friends and family, to the local community council, right up to the highest levels of government.”

Notes to Editors

Other Report Headlines include:

  • Public acceptance of same sex relationships has continued to increase – 59% said they held the view that same sex relationships are ‘not wrong at all’, up from 50% in 2010.
  • Significant decrease in proportion of people reporting that they did not know anyone with a mental health problem - 19% (down from 25% in 2010).
  • While there are consistently low levels of negative attitudes towards the suitability of Muslims and black or Asian people as primary school teachers, attitudes towards a woman wearing a headscarf or veil while working in a bank differed considerably - 82% thought that it was acceptable to wear a headscarf, but only 35% thought it was acceptable to wear a veil. 

For more press information and interviews contact Sarah Thoms on 0141 228 5974, out of office hours 07854 193592.

The SSAS Discrimination Module has been part funded by the Equality & Human Rights Commission for the past 10 years. 

Press contact details

For more press information contact the Commission's media office on:

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