Written evidence from the Traveller Movement (COD0006)


[This document has been redacted to remove references or links to personal data.]





The Issues


Research by the Traveller Movement indicates[2] that 90% of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers have experienced discrimination.


In our professional experience, politicians are frequently the source of discriminatory or racist abuse against Gypsies, Roma or Travellers.


When MPs, peers or local politicians refer to Gypsies, Roma or Travellers as an ‘invasion’ or ‘like a disease’ they serve only to dehumanise and increase the public’s opposition and hostility towards Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. This is extremely harmful.


Research has shown that racist or derogatory language by politicians against minority groups can lead to a spike in hate crimes, whilst racist and irresponsible reporting in the media can lead to a backlash against all community members.


In 2019, the Traveller Movement and Rene Cassin launched a new campaign[3] aimed at curbing hate speech in politics[4]. This campaign requests that politicians take their duties seriously and end the use of hateful or inflammatory speech against minority ethnic groups in politics.


Parliamentary debates should be solution focused, and not merely a platform for venting prejudice against ethnic minority groups. The role of an elected representative is to represent all their constituents, inclusive of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.


The Government must revise the Parliamentary Code of Conduct to include specific references to hate speech. This has worked effectively in the Welsh Assembly, under the Standing Order 13.9 (v) - "using disorderly, discriminatory or offensive language or language which detracts from the dignity of the Assembly".


Parliamentarians who abuse their position by using hateful language must face sanction. This sets an example to other parliamentarians, but also to wider society about what is or isn’t acceptable to say when discussing minority ethnic or religious groups. Political parties/independents should also make similar changes and adjustments to include specific mentions of hate speech.


21 October 2020

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-42353636

[2] https://travellermovement.org.uk/reports?download=88:sep-2017-the-last-acceptable-form-of-racism-the-pervasive-discrimination-and-prejudice-experienced-by-gypsy-roma-and-traveller-communities

[3] https://travellermovement.org.uk/campaigns/cut-it-out

[4] https://www.travellerstimes.org.uk/news/2019/10/traveller-and-jewish-charities-set-launch-new-anti-hate-speech-campaign-parliament