What is discrimination?

Discrimination comes in different forms.  It can be:

Direct when someone’s gender, ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, age, disability or being transgender is used as an explicit reason for treating them differently.  This is the kind of discrimination that people often recognise easily.  An example might be where a community learning and development worker refuses to work with someone because they are gay.


Or indirect when there are rules, services or ways of doing things that have the effect of discriminating against certain groups.  For example, the venue you choose for a local event or training might not be accessible to everyone with a disability.

This kind of discrimination is more subtle and can be harder to spot.  It often results from simplSG Brand  Smarter Scotland Logo  Jpeg  Web  Coloury not understanding or thinking about the needs of certain groups. 

It is important to remember that some people experience discrimination on several grounds – this is sometimes called multiple discrimination.

The impact of discrimination is far reaching.

The Equality Strategy for Scotland (published by the Scottish Executive in 2001) says:

For the groups concerned, discrimination may result in social exclusion, restricted employment opportunities, and restrictions in access to goods and services.  Discrimination may also result in abuse and violence.

While there are differences both within and between groups who experience persistent inequalities and discrimination, there are some common features:

» restricted access to employment, goods, services, and other material resources that are considered essential to the economic wellbeing of people in contemporary Scottish society

» under-representation in senior positions in work, professions and business

» under-representation in political and social life

» experience of direct, indirect and institutional discrimination

» experience of abuse and violence"

Source: Scottish Executive, Equality Strategy - Working Together for Equality (2000)