Home Secretary owes Travellers an apology

September 30, 2020

Organisations for Gypsies and Travellers, including LGT, are demanding an apology from Home Secretary Priti Patel after she branded Travellers as criminal and violent in a recent Zoom meeting with Jewish community leaders.

During the meeting, Ms Patel said she was determined to stamp out the “criminality that takes place and that has happened through Traveller communities and unauthorised encampments”, making a distinction between Travellers and the Gypsy and Roma communities.

Her comments have been condemned as “completely unacceptable and discriminatory in the extreme” in a letter from the Traveller Movement, co-signed by dozens of organisations, individuals, MPs and activists, many representing Travellers and other communities that experience discrimination.

“Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers are protected from race discrimination under the Equality Act 2010,” the letter points out to Ms Patel. “We consider your comments during this meeting to constitute hate speech as it brands an entire ethnic group as criminal and violent.”

“Your comments not only pit ethnic groups against one another; they also single out an entire ethnic group as criminal and violent.”

The letter urges the Home Secretary to sign a pledge against hate speech, part of a campaign by the Traveller Movement and Jewish human rights group René Cassin. She should also support efforts for all parliamentarians to receive unconscious bias training, it says.

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