1 In 3 Ethnic Minority Scots Face Discrimination

14 September 2015, 06:00

Around one in three Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Scots has experienced discrimination in the last five years, a study has found.

Nearly 35% agree discrimination is a widespread problem in Scotland, according to research led by the University of Strathclyde's Dr Nasar Meer, and polling company Survation.

Dr Meer, of Strathclyde School of Social Work and Social Policy, and colleagues asked more than 500 BME respondents across Scotland a range of questions that explored whether racial discrimination was an issue in their lives.

Those who reported facing discrimination did not restrict it to a single area, but instead pointed to experiences in employment either in getting a job (36%) or in being promoted (31%) as well as in education (35%) and in the use of public transport (35%).

More than four-fifths (82%) of those who said they had experienced discrimination felt this was due to their perceived ethnicity, and further 42% felt it was due to their perceived religion.

Dr Meer said: "The way we statistically measure experiences of discrimination varies from one survey to another, but this is the first survey that is focused exclusively on BME experiences in Scotland.

"What it shows is that there is clearly a perception of both low-level and more obvious experiences of racial discrimination in Scotland, but also of under-reporting, and much more research is needed to show how and in what ways this may be occurring.

"We certainly know from other fieldwork that racial discrimination occurs across the UK for example, that BME applicants are less likely to be successful in applying for a job even discounting differences such as age and education. As this survey shows, we cannot assume this is not an issue in Scotland too."

When respondents were asked if they felt incidents of racial discrimination were increasing or decreasing, 21% stated they have become more frequent, 22% less frequent, and 43% that they had stayed the same over the last five years.

Over half (54%) and nearly a quarter (24%) agreed and disagreed respectively with the statement the Scottish government is doing enough to tackle discrimination in Scotland.

The study also asked respondents about political identities and voting intensions, and found more than a third of the entire sample (35%) described themselves equally Scottish and British, with Scottish Muslims notably more likely to do so at over 42%.

Precisely 38% of respondents voted in favour and against Independence in the 2014 referendum respectively.

When asked whether an Independent Scotland would be better or worse placed to tackle discrimination in Scotland, 22% said it would be better placed and 17% said it would be worse placed, and 47% said it would make no difference (12% answered Don't Know and 2% refused to answer).

When asked: Which political party do they think is best placed to tackle discrimination in Scotland?, there was a strong view this was the SNP (43%), followed by Scottish Labour (15%), Scottish Greens (3%), Scottish Conservatives (2%) and Scottish Liberal Democrats (1%).

Looking forward to the 2016 Scottish Elections, and in response to the question: If the election were tomorrow, which party would you be most likely to vote for with your first, constituency vote?, 43% identified the SNP, 15% Labour and 28% didn't know.

Dr Meer said: "There is both good and bad news in this survey.

"BME groups in Scotland have firmly established themselves in Scottish society; feel a strong attachment to it, and like all groups hold diverse sets of views on what they think Scottish society should be like.

"Clearly, however, the issue of discrimination is one that cuts across BME experiences and tackling this should be of central importance to policy makers."