The U.S. Department of State has used the working definition of Anti-Roma racism* since it was adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) as a legally non-binding definition in 2020. The effort to draft a of anti-Roma racism was spearheaded by experts in the IHRA in consultation with representatives of civil society. As a member of IHRA, the United States has encouraged other governments and international organizations to adopt the definition.
The Working Definition of Anti-Roma Racism*
Adopted on 8 October 2020
Acknowledging with concern that the neglect of the genocide of the Roma has contributed to the prejudice and discrimination that many Roma** communities still experience today, and accepting our responsibility to counter such forms of racism and discrimination (Articles 4 and 7 of the IHRA 2020 Ministerial Declaration, article 3 of the Stockholm Declaration), the IHRA adopts the following working definition of anti-Roma racism:
Anti-Roma racism is a manifestation of individual expressions and acts as well as institutional policies and practices of marginalization, exclusion, physical violence, devaluation of Roma cultures and lifestyles, and hate speech directed at Roma as well as other individuals and groups perceived, stigmatized, or persecuted during the Nazi era, and still today, as “Gypsies.” This leads to the treatment of Roma as an alleged alien group and associates them with a series of pejorative stereotypes and distorted images that represent a specific form of racism.
To guide the IHRA in its work, the following is being recognized:
Anti-Roma racism has existed for centuries. It was an essential element in the persecution and annihilation policies against Roma as perpetrated by Nazi Germany, and those fascist and extreme nationalist partners and other collaborators who participated in these crimes.
Anti-Roma racism did not start with or end after the Nazi era but continues to be a central element in crimes perpetrated against Roma. In spite of the important work done by the United Nations, the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other international bodies, the stereotypes and prejudices about Roma have not been delegitimized or discredited vigorously enough so that they continue to persist and can be deployed largely unchallenged.
Anti-Roma racism is a multi-faceted phenomenon that has widespread social and political acceptance. It is a critical obstacle to the inclusion of Roma in broader society, and it acts to prevent Roma from enjoying equal rights, opportunities, and gainful social-economic participation.
Many examples may be given to illustrate anti-Roma racism. Contemporary manifestations of anti-Roma racism could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
- Distorting or denying persecution of Roma or the genocide of the Roma.
- Glorifying the genocide of the Roma.
- Inciting, justifying, and perpetrating violence against Roma communities, their property, and individual Roma.
- Forced and coercive sterilizations as well as other physically and psychologically abusive treatment of Roma.
- Perpetuating and affirming discriminatory stereotypes of and against Roma.
- Blaming Roma, using hate speech, for real or perceived social, political, cultural, economic, and public health problems.
- Stereotyping Roma as persons who engage in criminal behavior.
- Using the term “Gypsy” as a slur.
- Approving or encouraging exclusionary mechanisms directed against Roma on the basis of racially discriminatory assumptions, such as the exclusion from regular schools and institutional procedures or policies that lead to the segregation of Roma communities.
- Enacting policies without legal basis or establishing the conditions that allow for the arbitrary or discriminatory displacement of Roma communities and individuals.
- Holding Roma collectively responsible for the real or perceived actions of individual members of Roma communities.
- Spreading hate speech against Roma communities in whatever form, for example in media, including on the internet and on social networks.
** The word ‘Roma’ is used as an umbrella term which includes different related groups, whether sedentary or not, such as Roma, Travellers, Gens du voyage, Resandefolket/De resande, Sinti, Camminanti, Manouches, Kalés, Romanichels, Boyash/Rudari, Ashkalis, Égyptiens, Yéniches, Doms, Loms and Abdal that may be diverse in culture and lifestyles. The present is an explanatory footnote, not a definition of Roma.