Commission concerned over negative figures for Scots-Gypsy relations

Survey finds 31 per cent unhappy about a close relative marrying or forming a long-term relationship with a Gypsy Traveller

THE Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in Scotland has expressed concern about the findings of the social attitudes survey which showed that a third of Scots polled hold negative views about the gypsy traveller community.

Over a third of respondants stated that they were unhappy about a close relative marrying or forming a long-term relationship with a Gypsy Traveller

Despite improvements in attitudes to ethnic minorities in Scotland generally the survey also showed disaproval of people who had a sex change being teachers.

“We need to be taking specific action to improve attitudes, for example, towards people with mental health problems and Gypsy/Travellers.” Alistair Pringle

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.”

According to the figures, 31 per cent of people polled were unhappy about a close relative marrying or forming a long-term relationship with a Gypsy Traveller, and 19 per cent disapproved of their relatives being with someone who experiences depression.

Out of the 1,288 people asked between July 2015 and January 2016, 34 per cent said that a Gypsy/Traveller would be an unsuitable primary school teacher, and 20 per cent felt someone who had undergone a sex change would also be disagreeable.

However only 16 per cent would now be unhappy about a close relative entering into a long term same sex relationship, down from 55 per cent in 2010.

Additionally there are consistently low levels of negative views towards Muslims and black or Asian people as primary school teachers.

The proportion who thought that Scotland would begin to lose its identity if more black and Asian people came to live in Scotland fell by eleven percentage points 45 per cent to 34 per cent.

“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.” Alistair Pringle

Pringle continued: “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.”

Picture courtesy of EHRC Scotland

Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.