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Europeans say ethnicity and sexual orientation main reasons for discrimination - survey

The latest Eurobarometer shows attitudes towards women and disabled people are getting better – and also examines perceptions of transgender persons for the first time.

EUROPEANS BELIEVE THAT ethnic origin is the most common reason for discrimination within the European Union, followed by sexual orientation.

According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, which looks into attitudes and perceptions of Europeans towards discrimination based on a variety of different grounds, 56 per cent of Europeans said race is the main ground for discrimination – down from 61 per cent in 2009 – and 46 per cent of Europeans said discrimination based on sexual orientation is widespread (-1 percentage point since 2009).

Meanwhile, the proportion of Europeans who say discrimination on the grounds of disability is widespread has decreased -7 percentage points since the last survey to 46 per cent. Currently, 50 per cent of Europeans consider this type of discrimination to be ‘rare or non-existent’ in their country (+7).

‘Old age discrimination’

Forty-five per cent of respondents said discrimination against people aged over 55 is widespread, while discrimination on the grounds of being younger than 39 is seen as far less common – with just 18 per cent of people saying they believed it occurred.

Notably, so-called “old” age discrimination is mainly seen as an employment issue and many Europeans said they believed equal opportunities in employment could be improved. Of the personal characteristics thought to put applicants at a disadvantage in the recruitment process, being over 55 years old is seen as the most likely factor.

Almost four out of ten Europeans believe that discrimination based on a person’s religion or beliefs is widespread (39 per cent), while more than half believe such discrimination as rare or non-existent.

Gender identity included for first time

Perceptions of discrimination against transsexual and transgender persons were explored for this first time in the latest Eurobarometer survey, with 45 per cent of respondents believing it is widespread versus 42 per cent believing it is rare or non-existent.

The survey shows that far fewer Europeans than in 2009 now consider discrimination on the grounds of gender to be widespread (31 per cent, -9).

When it comes to acceptance at the highest elected political position for different groups by the respondents, there is a particularly high level of acceptance of women (with an average score of 8.6 on a scale from 1 to 10) and disability (7.7).

Conversely, the lowest levels of comfort can be found for transgender or transsexual persons (5.7) and persons over 75 years old (5.4).#

More Europeans say they would feel comfortable if a person from one of the minority groups mentioned in the survey were to run their country than would feel uncomfortable.

Read the full report: Discrimination in the EU in 2012>

Read: Discrimination experienced by 79 per cent of people with depression>

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