Thursday, 17 November 2016

We can make a change in society by refusing to be a bystander- Alastair Pringle, EHRC

We haven't seen the same rise in reported incidents in Scotland as we have elsewhere following the vote to leave the EU, but that doesn't mean that people feel safe, or are not anxious about how people are viewing them in Scotland. Too many people still feel they have license to abuse their fellow citizens on racial or homophobic or other grounds. 

We worked with the Scottish Government on the recently published Scottish Social Attitudes Survey which showed that negative attitudes towards some groups remain stubbornly entrenched, in particular for Gypsy/Travellers, people with mental health problems and transgender people. 

However, it also showed significant improvements in attitudes towards gay, lesbian and bisexual people and showed that attitudes in general towards Scotland’s black and ethnic minority community remain positive. So we have made good progress, but clearly still have a long way to go. 

We believe that part of the solution lies in understanding how best to challenge environments which are permissive of this sort of behaviour. The stark fact is that half of all reported hate crime incidents are committed by, and towards, young people.

Building confidence amongst young people, those who work with them and those who work in community settings, to tackle prejudice and discrimination wherever they see it is absolutely vital in tackling prejudice in Scotland. There is also a need to examine current evidence to see what is currently working, before we try to reinvent the wheel elsewhere. 

This is a responsibility for all of us. We all have a part to play, from the Scottish Government, to our schools, to our workplaces, to each of us as individuals. We can make a change in society by refusing to be a bystander, showing leadership by example and speaking up and being an active citizen. It is everyone’s business to make this a thing of the past.

Alastair Pringle
Scotland Director
Equality and Human Rights Commission 

For details of the St Andrew's Day Anti-Racism March see the STUC Website or the St Andrew's Day Facebook Page

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