The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on equalities and human rights

Closed 1 Jan 2021

Opened 27 Apr 2020

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


What groups and individuals in Scotland are disproportionately impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

This inquiry seeks to identify the evidence that some groups of people are experiencing disproportionately negative impacts of the coronavirus, and by some of the measures taken to deal with it.

The inquiry will look at the measures the Scottish Government and other public bodies, including regulatory and oversight bodies, can take to help. It will also examine measures taken by public bodies and the impacts they may have on equality and human rights.

We want to hear your views on:

  • which equality groups are being disproportionately negatively affected by the coronavirus, and by some of the measures taken to deal with it 
  • what equality and human rights impacts there have been
  • what the Scottish Government can change or improve to mitigate against these impacts

The Committee is not able to take up individual issues raised in this inquiry, but if you would like support or advice you can contact your Constituency, or Regional MSPs.

Further information related to the inquiry

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre have written a blog which highlights some of the main questions raised by the emergency powers in relation to human rights.

Shirley-Anne Sommerville MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, wrote to the Committee on 15 April, stating that:

... central to our [the Scottish Government’s] approach is a resolute focus not just on the necessity and proportionality of the measures being taken, but also on the overriding duty to uphold and protect human dignity. One of the most fundamental tests for the functioning of an effective, democratic society is the way in which it looks after the rights of the most vulnerable and marginalised in times of crisis.  
I therefore want to be clear with the Committee that, as a matter of fundamental principle, all lives matter. No-one is somehow of lesser value.  Every policy must “see the individual” and must focus on respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of everyone, without discrimination.


The Scottish Parliament Equalities and Human Rights Committee has representatives of different political parties on it. It holds the Scottish Government to account on its equalities and human rights law and policy.

This Call for Views is being conducted as part of our inquiry into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on equalities and human rights. Due to the social distancing measures in place the inquiry will involve:

  • written submissions
  • remote public engagement
  • remote committee meetings

Before submitting your views, please read the privacy notice. This sets out how we process your personal data when providing information to a Committee.

You don’t need to answer every question if it’s not relevant to you.

  • how have groups of people been affected by the virus?
  • which groups have been disproportionately affected by the virus and the response to it?
  • have there been specific equality or human rights impacts on groups of people as a response to the virus?
  • what do the Scottish Government and public authorities (e.g. local authorities, health boards etc.) need to change or improve:
    • as a matter of urgency?
    • in the medium to long term?

How to submit your views

Please submit your views via the submission form, accessed below.

There is no set deadline to submit your views. The call is open-ended to enable the Committee to monitor any ongoing or emerging equalities and human rights issues, so that steps can be taken to protect those most in need.

The Committee is aware that many people impacted by the virus and the response to it might not be able to respond to a digital call for views. The Committee understands that many organisations will be supporting people in the community.

If you are responding on behalf of an organisation and are able to capture people’s experience through your work, from those who feel they don’t have a ‘voice’, the Committee would very much welcome those views in your response.

The Scottish Parliament and its Committees value diversity. We seek to work towards committee witnesses being broadly representative of Scotland’s society. As such we encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence.

Before making a submission, please read our privacy notice about submitting your views to a Committee. This tells you about how we process your personal data. If you are under 12 years of age, please read this privacy notice.

We welcome written views in any language.