Prejudice against LGBT people falls sharply in Scotland

Levels of prejudice towards LGBT people have fallen sharply since 2010 in Scotland. Picture: Robert Perry/TSPL
Levels of prejudice towards LGBT people have fallen sharply since 2010 in Scotland. Picture: Robert Perry/TSPL
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Evolving social attitudes in Scotland have led to a significant reduction in the prevalence of discriminatory attitudes since 2010, with levels of prejudice towards LGBT people in particular falling sharply.

Analysis of the 2016 Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) survey by ScotCen, shared with The Scotsman, reveal the proportion of people who say that they would be unhappy if a close relative married someone of the same sex has almost halved from 30 per cent in 2010 to 16 per cent in 2015, while the number who say they would be unhappy if a relative married someone who has undergone gender reassignment surgery has fallen from around a half to just under a third over the same period.

While 55 per cent of respondents said they would be unhappy if a relative married someone who cross-dresses in public in 2010, this dropped to 39 per cent.

The number of people who believe that someone who is gay or lesbian, or has undergone gender reassignment surgery, is unsuitable to be a primary school teacher has also fallen considerably.

Ian Montagu, a researcher at ScotCen, said: “This shift in attitudes is particularly notable in relation to the latter group; between 2010 and 2015, the proportion of people who said that those who have undergone gender reassignment are not suitable to teach at primary school level fell by 11 percentage points.

“These changes have occurred in tandem with a rise in the number of Scots who think that sexual relations between two adults of the same sex are ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ wrong, from 58 per cent in 2010 to 69 per cent in 2015.

“Taken together, these figures may suggest a broader shift in people’s attitudes towards those who challenge traditional norms of gender, sexuality and relationships.

“A closer look at the data shows that the biggest attitude change has occurred among those socio-demographic groups that have previously been more likely to hold discriminatory views about LGBT people.

“Increasing acceptance of a relative marrying a person who has undergone gender reassignment surgery for example has occurred particularly amongst those with no formal educational qualifications, whilst the drop in disapproval of a relative marrying someone of the same sex is also marked amongst those in older age groups who typically hold more socially conservative views.

“While the drivers behind these changes are complex, it may be the case that those groups amongst which levels of prejudice had previously been comparatively high have been influenced by wider shifts in attitudes across the rest of society.”

Hannah Pearson, policy coordinator at the Equality Network in Edinburgh, said: “We very much welcome the continued increase in the majority of Scots who respect and value equally their lesbian, gay and trans neighbours.

“Attitudes have changed very fast, and we think that’s in part due to the leadership shown by successive Scottish governments in promoting equality in the law.

“It’s also because a lot more people have come out – people are less likely to hold discriminatory attitudes if they have a friend or family member they know is LGBT.

“Only 15 per cent of Scots now say they don’t know anyone lesbian or gay.

“It is also good to see that, by a large majority, religious affiliated people would also be happy with a close relative forming a same-sex relationship.”