Migrants' Rights Network

Roma, Gypsy and Traveller discrimination in Europe

Roma, gypsy and traveller communities have long been a target of systematic discrimination and marginalisation in Europe. Government agencies across countries – including the UK – practice ethnic profiling of this group based on “historically-constructed, persistent complex racism,” according to the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), in a report to raise awareness on this situation.

ENAR, a pan-Europe anti-racism advocacy group, identified several traveller and gypsy specific strategies by European governments. Among these include discriminatory stop and search by police, profiling at border crossings, illegal databases and more. Their EU-wide briefing can be accessed here.

In the UK, entire Roma, gypsy and traveller communities face social exclusion and discrimination in their daily lives, but also in social policy. There are roughly 30,000 people who identify as being gypsies and travellers in London, according to non-profit London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT). Around 85 percent of them have been forced to live in houses.

While the Race Relations Act of 1976 recognised Romani Gypsies and Irish Travellers as ethnic groups and they are protected by the Equality Act 2010,  LGT stated that the group still faces discrimination which hinders their access to healthcare, education and jobs. More has to be done to give travellers and gypsies access to social services they have the right to, but also to provide a channel for them to have their voices heard, and to preserve their right to live their chosen way of life.

The ENAR briefing notes:

In the United Kingdom, Immigration Enforcement are increasingly ‘deporting’ EU nationals who are in precarious employment or unemployed. This is having a disproportionate effect on Roma. Many police forces share contact information on victims of crime with Immigration Enforcement, for them to investigate the immigration status of the victim.
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