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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 May, 2004, 16:43 GMT 17:43 UK
Anti-Gypsy signs crackdown
Travellers' caravan
'No Gypsies and travellers' signs were banned in 1965
The end is nigh for signs in Welsh shops and pubs which declare: No Gypsies or travellers.

The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) in Wales has announced that it plans to get rid of all such notices within two years.

Although discriminatory signs have been illegal for nearly 40 years, the CRE says they are still being used.

But a leading Gypsy campaigner said she thought the problem had all but died out and was surprised the CRE was focussing on it.

If you saw a sign banning black people from a shop there would be outcry, yet signs banning travellers and Gypsies are still being used
Chris Myant, CRE

People are being urged to report any signs so that the CRE can take action.

Chris Myant, director of the CRE in Wales said it was "high time" the signs were stamped out.

"It has been offence to display an advert or sign which discriminates against certain groups since the Race Relations Act came in 1965," he said.

"If you saw a sign banning black people from a shop there would be outcry, yet signs banning travellers and Gypsies are still being used.

"This is something we need to address and over the next two years we aim to eliminate the problem in Wales," he said.

Mr Myant said the CRE would work closely with Gypsy and traveller groups as part of its two-year "agenda for change".

"Wales is not the largest place in the UK and this means that this is something we can achieve," said Mr Myant

Public racism

"We want people to let us know if they see a sign of this nature and we will do something about it - we have the powers.

Signs were a big problem at one time, but if they were now, I think I'd have heard about it
Sylvia Dunn, president of the National Association of Gypsy Women
"This has been unlawful for almost 40 years and yet these sorts of signs are being used.

"People know exactly what they are doing when they put these signs up and they think they can get away with it.

"The main area where it happens is in pubs and some shops especially where there is a travelling community.

"It is public racism and we want to eliminate it in Wales by May 2006.

"It is not the biggest or the worst problem in Wales but it is one thing we can do something about," he said.

The CRE is relying on the support of the public to report any discriminatory signs or notices in businesses across the country.

Sylvia Dunn, president of the National Association of Gypsy Women, said she was surprised that the CRE was focussing on the signs because they seemed to have largely disappeared.

"I haven't seen any for years and years," said Mrs Dunn, of Essex, who used to be a regular visitor to Wales.

"But if you see one you just walk into the pub and tell the landlord to take it down because he's not allowed to have it."

Mrs Dunn said a group of Gypsy women reacted to a similar sign in Ireland by simply sitting in the pub talking for hours until the landlord relented and served them.

She urged the CRE to concentrate on such issues as accommodation.

"Signs were a big problem at one time, but if they were now, I think I'd have heard about it," she said.


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