Social distance and stereotypes regarding 14 vulnerable groups in Moldova are pointed out in the Survey on Equality Perception, 2015
30 November 2015

The acceptance level manifested by the society in relation to 14 vulnerable groups from the Republic of Moldova was discussed today, December 01, 2015, within the round table tackling the “Study on Equality Perceptions and Attitudes in the Republic of Moldova”. The respective study was developed by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in collaboration with the Council for Preventing and Eliminating Discrimination and Ensuring Equality in Moldova, and in consultation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Moldova, within the framework of the “Supporting National Human Rights Institutions as per International Treaty Bodies and UPR Recommendations” project. OHCHR Moldova highly appreciates the financial support provided by the Norwegian Government.  

“Thus study reflects what namely is happening in the society and makes us understand that the work we carry out is very important and extremely necessary for the society, and there is still a lot to be done in this area. I would be glad that in future, when coming to such conference, I would have the pleasure to mention that there is no discrimination in the Republic of Moldova. But, unfortunately, the situation is totally different at the present moment”, stated Mr. Ian Feldman, the Chair of the Council on the Prevention and Elimination of Discrimination and Ensuring Equality in Moldova.

Veaceslav Balan, the National Coordinator for Human Right, OHCHR, stated that: “this study is very important as it reveals the real situation, and not what we would like to hear, but the real things as they are. And the situation is not as good as it seems in this respect”.

This study measures the acceptance level (social distance index) in relation to 14 vulnerable groups in the Republic of Moldova, as well as confirms the stereotypes leading to a stronger marginalization of the respective groups. The social distance index includes 7 levels, each of them representing a certain degree of social closeness, and namely, to be: a relative through marriage with a family member (0); friend (1); neighbor (2); work colleague (3); citizen of the country (4); visitor of the country (5); and exclusion from the country (6). The 14 vulnerable groups mentioned above are: persons with mental and intellectual impairments; persons with physical impairments; LGBT persons; persons infected with HIV/AIDS; Roma people; Russians living in the RM; Russian speakers; Romanians living in the RM; Jewish people; persons of African origin; foreigners living in the RM, but do not hold the citizenship of RM; persons of Muslim religion; other religious minorities; persons who were detained (ex-detainees).

According to the findings of the respective study, none of the given vulnerable groups enjoys total tolerance, with a social distance index to be equal to zero. The biggest social distance (5.2 points) is registered for the LGBT persons, meaning their acceptance over the level of visitor in the country. This is the only group with the median value of 6 points, meaning that over half of respondents have opted for expelling the representatives of the given group from the country. The next vulnerable groups registering a big social distance are: persons infected with HIV/AIDS (4.3 points), ex-detainees (3.6 points), persons with mental and intellectual disabilities (3.6 points), persons of Muslim religion (3.3 points), persons of African origin (3.1 points) and Roma people (3.1 points). On the other hand, the smallest social distance is manifested for the Russian speakers (0.9 points) and Russians living in the RM (0.9 points), meaning their acceptance under the level of friend.

Alongside the high level of intolerance, a big number of mainly negative stereotypes is shared by citizens towards the marginalized groups. The quantity and negativism of the stereotypes correlate with the social distance towards the respective groups. The maximum social distance, manifested to the LGBT community is determined by the perception of the respective group through such characteristics as “immorality, abnormality, foolishness, sickness”. The critical level of intolerance manifested towards the persons living with HIV is determined by such perceptions as “bearers of viruses” and “sources of infection”. A series of wide-spread stereotypes about ex-detainees, such as “dangerous, aggressive, thieves, killers, lost people”, also determines a high level of intolerance towards this group and a big social distance. Even though the ethnical or religious affiliation does not imply maximum social distance, at least as compared to the above-mentioned groups, even among them some groups are pointed out with increased level of social distance. Hence, an incomparable high level of intolerance is registered for Roma people as compared to other ethnical groups (SDI – 3.1 points), being associated with such stereotypes as “thieves, liars, beggars, lazy, dirty”. The persons of Muslim religion represent another group pointed out in the context of other religious minorities, because of such associations as “aggressive, fanatics, terrorists, and extremists”.

“As long as hate and split persist in the society, we will not have a good living. Referring to the mass-media role in influencing the public opinion, we can mention that these would be the institutions which are able to change the situation regarding the perceptions and attitudes on equality and non-discrimination in the Republic of Moldova”, stated Veaceslav Balan, the National Coordinator for Human Rights, OHCHR.

The Study was carried out during April – June 2015, on a nationally representatives sample of 1013 respondents from 13 regions of the country. The collection of the data in the field and the analysis of the respective data were performed by the Center for Sociological and Marketing Investigations “CBS-AXA”.

For any additional information, please contact:

Valentina Purcel, Projects Coordinator, OHCHR:, 069685529

Tatiana Camincean, Council on the Prevention and Elimination of Discrimination and Ensuring Equality in Moldova:, 076700332

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