Scotland becoming a more tolerant place according to study

Scotland is becoming a more tolerant place, according to new research which shows prejudice against many groups falling.Figures from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2015 show nearly seven in 10 (69%) of people feel Scotland should do everything possible to get rid of all kinds of prejudice.

Scotland is becoming a more tolerant place according to a recent study. Picture.
Scotland is becoming a more tolerant place according to a recent study. Picture.

In tandem, the proportion of people who feel that sometimes there is a good reason to be prejudiced fell from 28% in 2010 to 22%.

Over the same period there was a drop in those who said they would prefer to live in an area where most people were similar to them, from 43% to 33%.

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There was also an increase, from 33% to 40%, in those who agree that people from outside Britain who come to live in Scotland make the country a better place.

The figures reveal concern about the impact of immigration on the labour market, with 30% agreeing that eastern European migrants “take jobs away from other people in Scotland” and 26% thinking the same for people from ethnic minorities.

Attitudes to same-sex relationships have continued to improve, with 59% agreeing such relationships are “not wrong at all”, up from 50% in 2010.

The survey is commissioned by the Scottish Government and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), and carried out by the Scottish Centre for Social Research.

While equality campaigners welcomed the findings, concern was raised over prejudice towards some groups, with 31% saying they would be unhappy about a close relative marrying or forming a long-term relationship with a gypsy traveller and 19% with someone who experiences depression.

EHRC Scotland director Alastair Pringle 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.

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“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.”

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said: “These figures show clearly that Scotland is becoming a more tolerant place and therefore a better place to live for us all. That is good news and we can be proud of the progress we have made.

“However, while any kind of prejudice still exists we cannot afford to be complacent and this survey also shows there are areas where, as a welcoming and tolerant nation, we must challenge ourselves to do more.”

Susan Reid, research director at ScotCen social research, said: “Today’s findings show a marked decline in levels of prejudice towards lesbian and gay people in Scotland since we last asked in 2010.

“A large part of this is down to a significant decline in negative attitudes among the over-65s.

“Although older people are still more likely to express prejudiced views, the age gap has narrowed since 2010. This is a positive step towards a more inclusive Scotland.”