Gypsies and Irish Travellers are the “least-liked” people in the UK, with nearly half of people feeling “negative” towards them, according to a new report.
The statistics revealed by the University of Birmingham also found that Muslims are the second “least-liked” community.
Report author, Dr Stephen Jones, a lecturer in sociology and religious studies, told Sky News: “What’s interesting is you can see there is, for example, discrimination against black African Caribbean people in the UK, but in surveys people do not express that hostility in the way that they do towards Muslims, in the way that they do towards Gypsies and Irish Travellers.
“So I think there’s a certain sense in which that kind of hostility is publicly acceptable, it doesn’t get the same kind of pushback that other forms of racism and prejudice receive.
“Quite why that is is a complex question, it’s down to our media representation, to our political leadership to various different historical and cultural factors.”
The survey, in conjunction with YouGov, took into account the views of 1,667 people and found that 44.6% viewed Gypsies and Irish Travellers negatively, 25.9% felt negative towards Muslims, 8.5% felt negative towards Jewish people, 6.4% felt negative towards black people and 8.4% felt negative towards white people.
Abiline McShane, a British Romany Gypsy traveller, told Sky News she was not surprised by the findings, and faced prejudice, and worse, on an almost daily basis.
“I can go into a room full of people and feel hatred from that room full of people,” she said.
The 54-year-old said there had been a recent “drive- by” at one of the West Midlands traveller sites where “someone just shot into the site, so you imagine people in my community don’t sleep very well”.
She added: “You tend to find things like ‘oh let’s blow them up in their caravans or let’s blow up their gas bottles while they’re inside’ – death threats to us is like a way of life.”
Shazia Nasreen, a healthcare assistant in Walsall, said she was targeted, as a Muslim, for wearing a headscarf, and had had stones thrown at her.
“They think I’ve come in as a migrant even though I was born in this country… I get questioned – ‘Are you allowed to work? Does your husband allow you to work? Are you allowed out the house?’ This is in this day and age.”
Dr Jones said he found that much of the hostility was coming from the upper and middle classes.
“When one looks at upper and middle class social groups in the UK they are quite effective at not expressing their prejudices openly, as you might say,” he said.
“The political discourse we’ve heard of so-called red wall voters, the post-Brexit socially conservative anti-immigration voter, that’s created a sort of vision where prejudice is seen as to be located within working class groups rather than upper and middle classes.
“What’s interesting about Gypsy and Irish Travellers and Muslim groups is that precisely because the prejudice seems to be slightly more acceptable, it seems to be expressed more often amongst upper and middle class and more educated groups too.”