Together in Pride – 24th June

March 1st 2017 was a historic day for Ireland. After decades of campaigning by Travellers and allies, activists and human rights organisations there finally came the moment when the State recognised that Travellers were a minority ethnic group.

The excitement on that day was palpable. When the Taoiseach made his address, the emotion and

pride of that moment is something many in the LGBT+ community will relate to.

The campaign to gain State recognition of Travellers ethnic minority status is the culmination of

decades of hard work, of raised hopes and false dawns. It was a battle to address a legacy of policies

that resulted in discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion. This includes a history of efforts to

‘assimilate’ Travellers into mainstream society. Efforts to discredit them as ‘failed’ settled people. It

is yet another dark chapter in Irish history, where people not fitting the mainstream ended up

marginalised and excluded.

Many Travellers were active in the campaign for Marriage Equality. Some had been campaigning,

advocating, agitating for many years. Some gave up hours, days, weekends to help out. It was vital to

because it was about real lives and it was deeply personal. The campaign succeeded because those

who wanted an equal Ireland come together as a community, in all diverse forms.

LGBT+ Travellers in Ireland have endured exclusion, discrimination and marginalisation. The success

of the referendum was a step towards righting that wrong. It was a step towards inclusion and

acceptance. No-one would claim that marriage equality was ever going to be the solution to

everything. Rights hard won can easily be lost but it is a movement in the right direction.

So too is the recognition of Traveller Ethnicity. Recognising Travellers as a minority ethnic group is

fundamentally about respect and inclusion.

Failure in the past to recognise Traveller ethnicity excluded an already marginalised group. It led in

some instances, to low self-esteem, poor self-image and a lack of pride in one’s cultural identity. This

loss of pride in oneself can cause stress, shame and depression and can lead to drug and alcohol

abuse and in some cases more severe mental health difficulties.

In Pavee Point there has long been the recognition of the need to address the issues facing LGBT+ Travellers.

Within the organisation, we have looked at ways to be more inclusive in our workplace, internal policies and structures. We

have embedded this work across all our programmes.

In the past year alone Pavee Point have collaborated with external LGBT+ organisations such as BeLonGTo and GLEN to provide training and

information for all our staff. We worked in partnership with TENI to produce the first culturally

appropriate Trans 101 resource.

We offer support for LGBT+ Travellers and we are continuing to grow and develop this work. We hope in the future to expand our work with Roma communities.  Pavee Point has a long history of marching in the Dublin Pride parade. This year we are hoping for

bigger participation than ever, as we come together as a community, proud to be Traveller, proud to

LGBT+, proud to be both and/or just proud to be a part of any celebration of inclusivity and

acceptance. We hope you can join us!