A new MORI poll on attitudes to minority groups released today shows England still has a long way to go to become an inclusive, tolerant society, warned Stonewall, the national organisation working for social equality and legal justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals.
The poll found that almost two thirds of people in England (64%) can name at least one minority group towards whom they feel less positive - representing 25 million adults across the country. The most frequently cited groups are travellers/gypsies (35%), refugees and asylum seekers (34%), people from a different ethnic group (18%) and gay or lesbian people (17%).
Prejudice against one group often goes hand in hand with prejudice against others. People who are prejudiced against any ethnic minority are twice as likely to be prejudiced against gay or lesbian people (33% compared to 17%). They are four times as likely to be prejudiced against disabled people (8% compared to 2%).
Knowing someone who is gay or lesbian, or someone from a different ethnic group, reduces by half the likelihood of prejudice against those groups.
And there is evidence of widespread acceptance of gay and lesbian people: overall, 63% said they would feel comfortable with a gay or lesbian GP, and 62% with a gay or lesbian teacher. 73% of people with children in their household would be comfortable with a gay or lesbian teacher.
The survey was commissioned by Citizenship 21, a new Stonewall initiative launched today, aimed at combating discrimination.
The project was born as a direct result of the nail bombings which targetted different minority communities in London in 1999, killing three people. Backed by a £900,000 grant from the Community Fund (announced last year), Citizenship 21 will provide grants to community groups, and information, training and research to help build links between communities and tackle prejudice.
Angela Mason, executive director of Stonewall said:
"This survey gives us new insights into the profile of prejudice in this country. There clearly are a number of factors which predispose people to dislike and fear others who are different. There is 'joined-up prejudice' and we need new 'joined up' responses. Racism and homophobia, for instance, very often go together."
"Citizenship 21 is about providing that joined-up response. It is a practical way of challenging prejudice by offering resources for those who want to work together for equality."
Lady Diana Brittan, chair of the Community Fund, said:
"The Community Fund's award to Stonewall for the Citizenship 21 Project came out of the tragic nail bombings in London in 1999. This highlighted the need for a common approach towards overcoming all forms of prejudice. I hope that our grant will build bridges between vulnerable communities and this project will bring about a more tolerant society."
A reception to celebrate the launch, which is sponsored by EUK Consulting, will be held on 19 June.
- The MORI results are based on responses from 1,183 adults aged 15+, interviewed by MORI face-to-face, in home, using self completion questionnaires. Interviews were conducted at 167 sampling points across England, between 24 - 30 May 2001. Data is weighted to the known national population profile.
- Briefing notes on the Citizenship 21 project and the MORI survey are attached.
- Sponsors of the launch reception: EUK Consulting Ltd, a public affairs and lobbying consultancy, represent those whose views are overlooked in today's society. Contact John Roberts, Managing Director, firstname.lastname@example.org