Scotland’s Equality and Human Rights Report Card: 'Good progress, work still to do'

Published: 20 Jan 2016

Scotland’s biggest ever study into equality and human rights - published today by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) - has revealed mixed results that show improvement for some, but many others are at risk of being left behind.

The report finds that:

  • Overall, educational attainment has increased, but some Scots fared worse including disabled pupils, pupils from deprived communities and Gypsy/Travellers. Although women were more likely to hold a degree than men, they were less likely to be in work, and if they were in work they were less likely to hold a senior position.
  • Ethnic minorities and disabled people were most likely to be living in relative poverty. People living in deprived areas had lower life expectancy, and some ethnic minority groups – Gypsy/Travellers, and older Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women – reported poorer general health.
  • In terms of how safe people felt living in Scotland, both the experience and fear of crime decreased, but some people – disabled people and women– were more likely to feel unsafe being alone after dark. 

Commenting on the report, Alastair Pringle, Scotland Director of the Commission said today:

"Equality and human rights are at the heart of Scottish life and Scots are rightly proud of our inclusive society.

"Today’s report indicates for many people society is getting fairer. However, for some – women, young people and disabled Scots in particular - the report highlights several concerning factors which will need action at a Scotland or GB level.

"While attitudes towards some groups have clearly improved – for example, for Scotland’s lesbian, gay and bisexual communities – stigma and negative attitudes persist towards people with mental health problems and Gypsy/Travellers. Hate crimes related to race were the most commonly identified crimes recorded by the police.

"We have outlined seven key equality and human rights areas for improvement in Scotland in the coming years, including closing attainment gaps in education, encouraging fair recruitment in employment, improving the availability and use of evidence, and tackling the harassment and abuse of people who share particular protected characteristics.

"There has been good progress made, but there is work still to do. We all have a part to play in making Scotland fairer, and the Commission look forward to doing our bit."

Report Headlines

Work and Income

  • There has been increased recognition in Scotland of key human rights issues in employment such as trafficking, exploitation and forced labour, and new legislation to tackle them.
  • Men were nearly twice as likely as women to be in senior positions in employment.
  • Unemployment particularly affected young people (20%), disabled people (12%), and ethnic minorities (13%) compared to the Scottish average (7%).
  • The gender pay gap narrowed slightly between 2008 and 2013 (17.5%), but other groups such as disabled people earn less on average than non-disabled people.

Access to Justice

  • Over a quarter (28%) of adults in Scotland felt unsafe being alone at home at night or walking alone in the local area after dark. Disabled people and women were most likely to report feeling unsafe.
  • Homicide rates in Scotland decreased between 2008 and 2013 from 22 to 13.4 (cases per million).
  • Police-recorded hate crimes increased, with race hate crime accounting for 7 out of 10 reports. Reports of hate crimes against disabled people and LGB groups increased, but religiously-motivated crimes reduced. 
  • There has been an increase in the number of rape and domestic violence convictions.


  • Gypsy/Travellers’ school attainment (tariff score) was 31% lower than that of their peers in 2012/13.
  • Disabled pupils, or pupils with Additional Support Needs, attainment lags behind that of non -disabled pupils although the attainment gaps narrowed between 2009/10 and 2012/13
  • Exclusion rates remained high for some groups, including Gypsy/Travellers, boys and pupils with additional support needs.


  • There has been a decrease in suicides in Scotland overall, although men had consistently higher rates than women. There is a clear link between suicide and deprivation, with suicide rates three times higher in the most deprived tenth of the population.
  • The gap in life expectancy between men and women narrowed, but the link between deprivation and lower life expectancy remained. There is little data about life expectancy in relation to ethnicity, disability, or faith. 
  • There was an increase in the proportion of Scottish adults who described their health as bad or very bad (8.6%). Twice as many Gypsy/Travellers rated their health as poor as any other group. Older Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women and people with learning disabilities also had particularly poorer health.

Notes to editors

For further information contact Sarah Thoms on 0141 228 5974 or 07854 193592.

‘Is Scotland Fairer?’ gathered data and evidence across 10 areas including education, standard of living, health and access to justice and combined these with available data on people with or who share protected characteristics – age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation - in order to show how they have fared over the past five years. The report also looks at progress towards attaining human rights in Scotland. The report aims to both inform and challenge policy makers and influencers to make further progress on equality and human rights based on these findings. The report does not seek to speculate, explain or propose legislation.

Press contact details

For more press information contact the Commission's media office on:

0161 829 8102