Survey finds decline in homophobic and racist beliefs

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Erin Gallagher
Writer

ScotCen, a leading social research body used by the Scottish Government, have published survey results indicating a significant shift in public attitude towards same-sex relationships since the start of the millennium.

The 2015 Scottish Social Attitudes survey revealed that the number of Scots who think same-sex sexual relationships are mostly or always wrong has dropped to 18%. This comes after a swift decline from the year 2000, when the figure was at 48%, and is the lowest the survey has ever recorded.

Now, only 16% of people in Scotland claim they would be unhappy with a close relative becoming involved with a same-sex partner in the long term. This number has nearly halved from 30% in 2010.|

The policy coordinator for the Equality Network, a national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality and rights charity, Hannah Pearson, commented: “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 lesbian, gay or bisexual. Only 15% of Scots now say they don’t know anyone lesbian or gay.”

However, attitudes remain split concerning transgender people. 32% of Scots responded that they would be unhappy if a close family member was involved in a long term relationship with someone that had undergone gender reassignment surgery. Considering that this number was near 50% back in 2010, perspectives have changed substantially in the past 6 years, however transgender people still face more negative attitudes than other groups. 20% of Scots still feel that a transgender person would not be a suitable choice for a primary teacher; a number which fell by 11% since the last survey.

The survey is conducted every four to five years in order to examine the population’s attitude towards different types of discrimination and positive action. The study found that the population’s attitude is likely to vary based on their age group, as only 3% of those under 30 would be unhappy about a family member being in a same-sex relationship. Additionally, just 13% of people under 30 would be unhappy about a close relative being in a relationship with a transgender person.

James Morton, manager of the Scottish Transgender Alliance, an Equality Network project dedicated to improving transgender equality and rights, said: “It is heartening to see much more positive views amongst younger people, and we look forward to the change in attitudes towards trans people continuing.”

Overall, there have been vast improvements in attitudes towards LGBTI people in Scotland. However, as admitted by the Equality Network Director, Tim Hopkins: “More needs to be done to combat this [discrimination].”