Special Eurobarometer released on discrimination in the European Union

Coloured handprints

On 23 October, a special Eurobarometer report was released, painting a picture of the situation of discrimination in the European Union. This came at critical point in time, just one day before the EPSCO Council (Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council configuration) held a wider discussion on anti-discrimination legislation in the EU.

The results rate how comfortable respondents are with people belonging to groups at risk of discrimination a) taking public office, b) being a co-worker, and c) being in a romantic relationship with their children. Different grounds for discrimination covered by the report include gender, age, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or belief, and disability.

Some main findings:

  • Respondents consider discrimination for being Roma is most widespread (61%) in their country, followed by discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin and skin colour (59%), sexual orientation (53%), transgender (48%), religion and belief (47%), disability (44%), age (40%) and gender (35%).
  • Overall, respondents feel more comfortable compared to 2015 to have someone belonging to a group at risk of discrimination taking the highest political position or being a work colleague.
  • In relation to the highest political office this is especially the case for women (88%), people who are perceived as too young (78%), people with disabilities (78%) and people belonging to a different religion than the majority (69%).
  • Compared to 2015, respondents also feel more comfortable with the idea of having someone belonging to a group at risk of discrimination being in a romantic relationship with their children. This is the case for atheists (76%), a black person (66%), a person of the same sex as their child (55%), a Muslim (53%), a Roma person (48%) and a transgender person (43%).
  • Attitudes to the three questions vary among EU Member States, with respondents from Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania feeling least comfortable in each scenario and respondents from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Sweden and Spain feeling most comfortable.
  • While public support for LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) relationships has grown compared to 2015, only 53% of respondents feel comfortable with public affection displayed between two women and 49% between two men, compared to 78% when it comes to public affection between heterosexual couples.
  • In nine EU Member States respondents were less likely to agree that gay, lesbian and bisexual people should have the same rights as heterosexuals, and in six EU Member States respondents were less likely to agree that they should have equal marriage rights.
  • Less than 40% of respondents think citizens of their country would feel comfortable with their children having Roma schoolmates.

While the results show some overall improvements for all groups at risk of discrimination, it is also clear that a lot remains to be done. Read more about all the findings and the individual country sheets here.