Roma flag. Credit: Freepik

Government Council For Roma Affairs Adopts Formal Working Definition of Antigypsyism

The Czech Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs yesterday adopted a working definition of antigypsyism (anti-Roma prejudice) and instructed the government commissioner, Lucie Fukova, to submit it to the government for approval, Fukova told CTK after the meeting.

The definition of antigypsyism as a form of racism against Roma was established in 2020 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). It called on the Czech Republic, as a member state, to adopt the definition and use it in practice. Though the formulation is not legally binding, the Council says it can help raise awareness and reduce anti-Roma sentiment.

“Adopting the definition would also be a strong symbolic gesture,” Fukova said. After the government, Fukova will try to persuade the Chamber of Deputies and Senate to support the definition before 8 April, International Roma Day. The Senate Education Committee is expected to adopt the definition on Tuesday.

According to the definition, ‘antigypsyism’ includes discriminatory actions, expressions or attitudes towards Roma by individuals or institutions. It leads to the exclusion and diminishing of Roma culture, as well as physical violence or expressions of hatred towards people who are considered “Gypsies”. They are treated as a different group, associated with offensive stereotypes and distorted racist ideas.

According to the Council, manifestations of antigypsyism include denying or endorsing the persecution and extermination of Roma, inciting violence against Roma, forced sterilisation, fabricated accusations, spreading stereotypes about criminal tendencies, or using the term “Gypsy” as a slur.

The Council said that by approving the definition, the Czech Republic would join other countries that have already adopted it (including Germany, Austria, Slovakia, the UK), and some universities, major companies and sports federations. It added that the IHRA had previously established a definition of anti-Semitism, which was approved by Czech MPs in 2019 and adopted by senators after them.

“If the Czech Republic has finally come to terms with the previously disgraceful state of the Roma Holocaust memorial at Lety u Pisku or Hodonin u Kunstatu, then the adoption of a definition of antigypsyism by the Government Council for Roma Minority Affairs and the government would be a worthy contribution to honouring their memory,” the Council said in its justification.

It said the adoption of the definition would contribute to greater awareness and understanding of discrimination and prejudice, the setting of targeted measures, and the promotion of equal opportunities. It would also make it easier to monitor unwanted manifestations and report cases.

The Council met yesterday for the first time in its new composition. Some members have been replaced, and new Roma representatives were recently appointed by the government.

At the end of the meeting, Fukova presented the council’s activities in the first year since her appointment in December 2022. She mentioned the composition of her team, advocacy for Roma involvement in planning and decision-making, trips to the regions, negotiations with politicians on measures in education, housing or employment, progress on compensation for unlawful sterilisations, as well as meetings last year to calm the heated situation in some parts of the country due to anti-Ukrainian sentiment.

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