Report: Discrimination worsens in Spain

Report: Discrimination worsens in Spain

Spain’s ministry of equality says racism and discrimination against people from minority ethnic backgrounds has worsened in recent years. According to a new study, this is being fuelled by far-right politicians and fake news.

A majority of people in Spain continue to have a negative image of those from racial or ethnic minority backgrounds, according to the latest survey by the government’s Ministry of Equality (Ministerio de Igualdad).

The survey findings, released this week, show that Roma and people of African origin perceive the highest levels of racism. 

The survey asked people about perceptions of discrimination in a number of different areas, including in the workplace, education, healthcare, policing and housing. Discriminatory behavior was perceived as being based mainly on physical features and skin color, cultural differences, religious belief and religious clothing.

People from sub-Saharan Africa and the Roma community experienced the highest levels of racism based on physical features – 82% and 71% for the respective demographics.

Housing discrimination doubles

The results of the survey showed that one in three Black or ethnic minority respondents felt they had experienced discrimination while house-hunting.

Whether they were dealing with real estate and housing agencies or with landlords, people of African origin – both non-Mediterranean African and those from the Maghreb – and Roma, felt they were discriminated against because of stereotypes and the way they looked. This was double the levels reported in the last survey in 2013.

Discrimination in the educational sector also increased by more than 50% from 2013. One in five respondents said they had endured insults, assault and racist jokes from fellow students, as well as being excluded from games and activities.

Impact of social media

The report blames social media and misinformation in part for the perceived increase in racially-motivated hate speech against certain groups. "The growing fake news trend ... creates alternative outlets which publish xenophobic images and create a negative public perception towards migration flows and minority groups," it said.

Far-right parties incited hate crimes and spread racial stereotypes and xenophobic attitudes, which have gained momentum in the political debate, according to the report. The ultranationalist, anti-immigrant Vox party became the third-largest force in the Spanish parliament in late 2019.

Discrimination on the basis of religion also increased considerably, the report said, with North African and Indo-Pakistani communities hardest-hit as a result of growing stigmatization, Islamophobia and being likened to terrorists.

Identifying discrimination

The report said the rise in perceived discrimination could in part be a result of a heightened awareness of everyday racism, compared with the level in 2013.

At the same time, it showed a significant rise in the proportion of people for whom discrimination "has no consequences or who are unable to identify [it]," from 3% to 27%.

The ability of people to integrate into society is impacted by experiences of discrimination, the report points out, with those who have not suffered discrimination in any area more likely to feel integrated.


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