Gypsies and Travellers 'regularly' face discrimination in pubs, says charity

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

'Far too regular': Charity Friends, Families and Travellers said it was not rare to hear of pubs and restaurants refusing service to Gypsies and Travellers
'Far too regular': Charity Friends, Families and Travellers said it was not rare to hear of pubs and restaurants refusing service to Gypsies and Travellers

Related tags Discrimination

Incidents of discrimination towards Gypsies and Travellers in pubs and restaurants occur 'on a far too regular basis', a charity has said.

The Friends, Families and Travellers charity said it often heard cases of Gypsies and Travellers experiencing prejudice and being refused service from pubs.

The Sun Online​ reported last week that a family were refused service​ at a Hungry Horse venue after a member of staff alleged Irish Travellers had 'caused problems' there in the past.

“It was one of the most embarrassing things I’ve experienced. It made me feel ashamed of who I am,” Michael Connors said after the group were refused entry for a birthday meal.

“We run a national case line for Gypsies and Travellers in the UK and, unfortunately, we hear stories similar to Mr Connors' on a far too regular basis,” a spokesperson for Friends, Families and Travellers told The Morning Advertiser​.

The spokesperson continued: “Refusing Gypsies and Travellers services is absolutely unacceptable.

“Being told to leave a public space can leave a lasting impact on Gypsy and Traveller community members and their children, who learn from a young age that experiencing prejudice and discrimination becomes the norm.”

'Can't understand why'

Ivy Manning, a Romany Gypsy who works at the charity which works to end racism and discrimination on behalf of Gypsies, Travellers and people of the Roma communities, said being refused service was an intimidating experience.

She said: "When you get turned away from a restaurant, you know you're different or unwanted, but you just can't understand why or what you've done wrong.

“You start to feel intimidated about going anywhere in the community, so you have to grow a thick skin,” she explained.

Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers are defined as ethnic groups under the Equality Act 2010, legally protecting them against race discrimination. However, other Traveller groups fall outside of these definitions​ and may not be protected under the Act.

JD Wetherspoon case 

In July, JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin lent his support to a campaign raising awareness of the discrimination​ Travellers and Gypsies face when they visit out-of-home establishments.

The pubco was found guilty in eight of 18 cases of ‘direct discrimination’ against Travellers​ after a group of Irish Travellers sued for discrimination when they were turned away from a London pub in 2011.

A spokesman for Hungry Horse said footage of the Connors family being refused service was filmed a few months ago and the staff member featured was no longer employed by the pubco.

“We aim for our pubs to be open and welcoming for all and do not tolerate any form of discrimination by customers or our teams,” they told The Sun Online​.

"Our teams do have the right to refuse service if they have reasonable grounds to do so, but we are sorry if anyone was made to feel uncomfortable.”

When surveyed by charity The Traveller Movement​, over half of the respondents said they had been refused service – from spaces including pubs, libraries and garages – because of their identity.

The report from September 2017 said many Travellers felt too afraid or unsure of legal protection to protest against such refusals. Some 77% said they had hidden their ethnicity in order to avoid being discriminated against when trying to access services.

Related topics Legislation

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