Scotland has undergone a societal shift in its attitudes to same-sex relationships, especially among older people, while substantial pockets of prejudice remain towards the Travellers community and Muslim women who wear the face veil.
According to the latest tranche of data from the Scottish Social Attitudes survey, the most comprehensive and longest-standing study of its kind in Scotland, one of the most significant shifts was apparent in attitudes to gay and lesbian relationships, with the proportion who held the view that they are not wrong at all increasing from 29% in 2000 to 59% in 2015. This is largely influenced by a significant decline in negative attitudes among the over-65s.
Indeed, by 2015 people reported that they were more unhappy for a close relative marrying or forming a long-term relationship with a member of the Traveller community (32%) or someone who experiences depression (19%) than with someone of the same sex (16%).
This large scale analysis of public attitudes to prejudice and discrimination, commissioned by the Scottish government and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and carried out by ScotCen Social Research, has been released every four to five years since it was founded in 1999.
The proportion of people expressing concerns about the impact of immigration on the Scottish labour market, both by those from ethnic minorities and from eastern Europe, saw a significant decline between 2010 and 2015, but just under a third continued to agree or agree strongly that immigration takes jobs away from people in Scotland.
While only 5% of respondents by 2015 said that they would be unhappy if a family member entered a relationship with a black or Asian person, prejudice towards certain visible symbols of religion remained entrenched, with 65% agreeing that an employer should be able to insist that a Muslim woman remove her veil while at work, only reducing from 69% in 2010.
Likewise, a fifth thought that an employer should be able to insist a Sikh man take off his turban at work, and 15% believed that a Christian woman should take off her crucifix.
Although previous evidence from the survey had shown that people who know someone from a minority ethnic group are less likely to hold discriminatory attitudes towards people in that group, the 2015 data revealed that one in five Scots still do not know someone from a different ethnic background, while a little more than one in 10 do not know someone who is gay or lesbian. One percent reported that they did not know anyone who is Muslim.
The study also found a significant decrease in the proportion of people reporting that they did not know anyone with a mental health problem, down from a quarter in 2010 to 19% in 2015.
Higher levels of prejudice remained towards Travellers, with 34% believing that a member of this community would be an unsuitable primary school teacher, compared with 20% who felt similarly about someone who had undergone a sex change.
Commenting on her findings, 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. However, our research still shows relatively high levels of prejudice towards some groups in society, such as people who cross-dress, those who have undergone gender reassignment and Gypsy/Travellers.
News Source TheGuardianNews