" Everyone has the right to live his or her life free from racism and prejudice"
Over a number of generations Scotland has gained a well-deserved reputation of being a welcoming and inclusive country. In the same way in which tens of thousands of Scots who left these shores to create new lives have been welcomed in their new adopted homelands, so too Scotland has warmly received new citizens who have brought a rich diversity to our communities and created a vibrant and dynamic nation.
Yet despite our tradition and the warm welcome which we give, many of our fellow Scots face barriers in their way, which impedes not just the fulfilling of their potential, but which harms Scotland as a whole. We don't want anyone to be marginalised or abused because of their race, but sadly that is still the case for many in Scotland. The Scottish Government is striving to create a fair and just society for all who live here. If we want Scotland to be a place where race is not a determinant of an individual's ability to fulfil their potential, then we need to continue to take steps to remove barriers and create equal opportunities for all.
That is why I am publishing this action plan. It re-states our commitment to race equality and outlines the clear steps we will take to deliver on this commitment. Our action plan has been informed by the work of the Independent Race Equality Adviser, Kaliani Lyle. I want to thank her and our race equality and strategic partners for working with us to develop this Action Plan. Ms Lyle has rightly noted that we are some way off achieving our ambition of equality.
The reality is that in Scotland today, people from minority ethnic communities are twice as likely to be unemployed, run a higher risk of poverty and are more likely to live in overcrowded homes. Some minority ethnic groups are also disproportionately affected by poor health, and yet have lower take up of preventative health measures, such as screening programmes. We need to tackle all of these issues. Just as we need to take action against discrimination, particularly amongst Gypsy/Travellers, and the thousands of racist incidents reported in Scotland every year.
I believe that our ambition of achieving a fairer Scotland is one to which we should all aspire and although the specific actions set out in this plan have a very clear focus of activity and allocation of responsibility, this is a job for all of us. Whilst government can give a lead, it is for us as a nation to rise to the challenges which we face to help improve the lives of our fellow citizens and create the Scotland that we all want to see. As employers, colleagues and neighbours, across all levels of government and services and society, we must all make the changes necessary.
I am therefore grateful and appreciate the dedicated work and engagement of the vast range of individuals, communities and organisations who continue to strive to make Scotland a better place to live and work.
Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities