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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 November 2005, 08:17 GMT
Race equality efforts stepped up
Racism campaign image
The minister said everyone needed to help tackle racism
A new national coalition on race equality is to be established as part of an "uncompromising" drive to stamp out discrimination in Scotland.

Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm has also announced the creation of a 2m fund to support local projects to tackle racism and support integration.

He said: "No-one should be held back in modern Scotland because of their race, colour or background."

The coalition will cover issues such as ethnic minorities' employment problems.

The body, which will be chaired by Mr Chisholm, will also look at the issues of verbal or physical abuse.

Where barriers to opportunity exist, I want to see them torn down
Malcolm Chisholm
Communities Minister

The moves were announced following an eight-month race equality review.

An action plan and racial equality strategy will be published next year.

Mr Chisholm said the steps unveiled on Thursday were laying the foundations for "a comprehensive set of measures to tackle disadvantage and discrimination in Scotland to make race equality a reality for everyone".

"The executive has a duty to show leadership to the public, private and voluntary sectors in tackling the damaging impact prejudice and discrimination can have in the workplace, in schools, in our public services and on our streets," he said.

"We all need to challenge racism. But it is not just malicious or intended racism which creates barriers.

More support

"We also need to look at our organisational, business and employment practices, as well as how we deliver our services."

Ethnic minorities needed more support to enable their voices to be heard more clearly and directly, said the minister.

"Where barriers to opportunity exist, I want to see them torn down," he added.

Race equality campaign poster
The executive is running the One Scotland Many Cultures campaign

"Our message on tackling the evils of racism is uncompromising: there is no place for racism in Scotland and this includes intended or indirect discrimination faced or caused by employers, employees, organisations and individuals."

The race integration and community support fund will operate from April next year until March 2008.

It will distribute 2m to support cross-community integration and help organisations and communities to tackle racism and promote equality.

The executive is also allocating an additional 2.3m to strengthen the work of the minority ethnic voluntary sector and support public agencies to meet their legal responsibilities.

Working groups will be set up to look at minority ethnic communities in rural areas and examine the needs of refugees and asylum seekers.

Cultural change

Ali Jarvis, interim director of the Commission for Racial Equality in Scotland, said it hoped to see continued progress on race equality.

She said: "It is heartening to see the review going beyond this to addressing the tougher issues of cultural change.

"We are delighted that the minister is taking a leadership role on this issue and look forward to working in partnership to shape the ongoing national strategy on race in Scotland on the basis of these firm foundations."

Zaffir Hakim of the STUC said the review and the action announced by Mr Chisholm were a "positive step".

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