Prejudiced attitudes towards minorities have not gone away as a result of equality legislation - they’ve just gone behind closed doors, according to new Sheffield University research.
A study which looked at attitudes towards minority groups in the UK identified widespread hostility towards laws and regulations, which were viewed as giving them unfair privileges.
And many people claimed they could only freely express their true opinions privately in their own homes amongst people they trust - where they were immune from legal constraints and expectations of society.
In public people will alter their behaviour, out of an obligation to comply with the law rather than because they believe in or accept the values enshrined in it.
The majority of those questioned acknowledged they knew little about the specifics of The Equality Act 2010 but expressed hostility nevertheless, dubbing it ‘political correctness’.
It was felt that behaviour in public was regulated by legislation, especially in the workplace, restricting ‘normal’ behaviour or attitudes.
Author Professor Gill Valentine said: “Equality legislation produces an expectation that the UK has a progressive and cosmopolitan public culture.
“Yet rather than prejudiced views disappearing they are just changing their form. Blatant public expressions of intolerance are becoming less commonplace but privately they persist. A privatisation of prejudice is taking place.”