Professor Kay Hampton from the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) told the
Equal Opportunities Committee
Scotland needed consistency of service provision for Gypsy/Travellers as at the moment some sites provided were "quite shocking" for the 21st Century with sanitation more like a third world country.
Professor Hampton was giving evidence on the committee's inquiry into where Gypsy/Travellers live on 6 December 2012.
She called for mapping to provide a real insight into where there were gaps in provision, adding a "national strategy on this would be very useful".
Her colleague at SHRC Duncan Wilson said there had been a failure by Scotland to grasp the issue of discrimination of Gypsy/Travellers and to reconcile the rights of everyone, "leading to a cycle of occupation, evictions and conflict".
Euan Page from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said there needed to be a "recognition of the legitimacy of the travelling way of life" which he said had been "part of the fabric of Scottish culture since the middle ages" but which was often neglected or forgotten.
All the witnesses criticised negative media coverage of Gypsy/Travellers and Mr Page also said there was a failure of political leadership at a local level where it was seen as "political suicide" to be seen to be "standing up for Gypsy/Travellers".
The committee is carrying out an inquiry into accommodation for Gypsy/Travellers as it has identified that where Gypsy/Travellers live is often at the root of many problems they face.