New research reveals Scots’ tolerance

December 28, 2018

A new research report by Humanist Society Scotland has shown that tolerance in Scotland to people of different faiths or none in Scotland is very high amongst the Scottish public. However the report authors, Humanist Society Scotland, cite concern about around 10% of individuals who would not accept people of a different religious outlook marrying a relative or being elected their MSP.

Scottish Parliament interior
1 in 10 people in Scotland say they would not accept someone of a differing faith/belief being their MSP

The new report released today, Tolerant Scotland?, by Humanist Society Scotland found that over eight in ten people in Scotland believed everyone should have equal rights no matter their religious or non-religious outlook. The survey found that only 3% opposed them having the same rights.

Humanist Society Scotland, a key campaigner in the movement for equal marriage, also expressed concern of the research finding that one in five people in Scotland still think it is wrong for people to have relationships with people of the same-sex. This rises to almost one in three amongst male respondents.

The Scottish public were also polled on the role they thought religious leaders should have in politics with 79% saying they should not try and influence people’s votes and 72% saying they should not try and influence government decisions.

1,003 people living in Scotland were polled by British Polling Council member Survation on their attitudes to others of a different outlook on religion or non-religious identities during summer 2018.

Headline findings from the research include:

700,000 men in Scotland say it is wrong for people to have same-sex relationships

Commenting on the findings, Humanist Society Scotland Chief Executive, Gordon MacRae, said:

Overall this research paints Scotland as a country accepting of different religious or non-religious outlooks. However there are some findings of concern, for example around one in ten people would not accept an individual being their MSP if their religion/belief was different.

There have been unacceptable incidents in the past of people attempting to use religious positions to advocate against voting for candidates in an election. Thankfully this is shown to be out of touch with the overwhelming majority of people in the country who hold much more inclusive values and believe religious leaders should not attempt to sway people’s votes.

It is disappointing to see continued opposition to same-sex relationships amongst a minority but nevertheless sizeable proportion of the community. As Humanists we support individuals living a loving life with those who make them happy. There clearly continues to be work to be done to ensure Scotland is a fully inclusive nation for LGBT people.

The Scottish public have also shown their awareness of those who attempt to use religion as a tool for division. Over three quarters said they felt some hard line religious people were too intolerant of others.

Young people in Scottish schools still being denied their right to opt out of religious worship is a clear example of this intolerance which is historically built into the fabric of society but not reflected by the values of people who live in it.

Gordon MacRae, Humanist Society Scotland

CLICK HERE to download the 2018 Tolerant Scotland? report.

CLICK HERE to download the full data table results from research firm Survation.

Summary of research questions asked

1 All people of different religions and of no religion should have equal rights in Scotland
Net Agree 82%
Net Disagree 3%
Neither agree/Disagree 11%
Don’t Know 3%

2 People with very strong religious beliefs are sometimes too intolerant of others
Net Agree 75%
Net Disagree 6%
Neither Agree/Disagree 15%
Don’t Know 4%

3 It is possible to live a good ethical life without being religious
Net Agree 86%
Net Disagree 3%
Neither Agree/Disagree 8%
Don’t Know 3%

4 Religious leaders should not try and influence how people vote
Net Agree 79%
Net Disagree 5%
Neither Agree/Disagree 12%
Don’t Know 4%

5 Religious leaders should not try to influence government decisions
Net Agree 72%
Net Disagree 10%
Neither Agree/Disagree 14%
Don’t Know 4%

People belong to different faith groups or no faith group. Would you accept someone with a different religion or no religion to yours…

6 Teaching your children
Would Accept 76%
Would Not Accept 12%
Don’t Know 13%

7 Being your GP
Would Accept 86%
Would Not Accept 6%
Don’t know 8%

8 Being elected your MSP
Would Accept 80%
Would Not Accept 9%
Don’t know 11%

9 Marrying a relative of yours
Would accept 78%
Would not accept 11%
Don’t know 12%

10 Giving you relationship advice
Would accept 62%
Would not accept 20%
Don’t know 18%

11 Supporting you emotionally after a bereavement
Would accept 77%
Would not accept 12%
Don’t know 12%

Which of the following comes closest to your view…

12
It is wrong for people to have sex before they are married 9%
It is not wrong for people to have sex before they are married 81%
Don’t know 6%
Prefer not to say 4%

13
It is wrong for people of the same sex to have sexual relationships 20%
It is not wrong for people of the same sex to have sexual relationships 67%
Don’t know 8%
Prefer not to say 5%

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