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Bill protest Irish Travellers in the UK gear up for July 7 rally in London against new Police Bill

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller campaigners have described the Bill as “the single biggest threat” to their traditional way of life.

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British police (stock) (Aaron Chown/PA)

British police (stock) (Aaron Chown/PA)

British police (stock) (Aaron Chown/PA)

Representatives of Irish Travellers in the UK are gearing up for a July 7 rally in London to protest against the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. 

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller campaigners have described the Bill as “the single biggest threat” to their traditional way of life.

They claim that if passed it will “entirely eradicate nomadic life”.

“It will give police the power to seize Gypsy and Traveller homes, fine Gypsies and Travellers up to £2,500 and imprison those needing to follow a nomadic way of life because of a lack of safe legal stopping places,” Drive 2 Survive co-chair Sherrie Smith said.

“This would not be tolerated by any other ethnic group and we will not stand for our culture being targeted in this way.”

Irish Traveller activist Chris McDonagh added, “As nomadic people that have roamed the lands we have lived on for our whole recorded history, to suddenly be told our way of life has no place in society is totally wrong and hurtful.

“We all live in a country that is supposedly proud of its acceptance and equality for all ethnicities and minorities, but we now see this is a lie. We are people and we deserve to exist.”

It comes as demonstrations have already been held across England against the legislation, which the Home Office has maintained contains measures that are "in line with human rights legislation".

However, the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has published a report raising concerns about the government's Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, namely that it would curtail an individual's right to protest.

These changes would increase restrictions on peaceful protests "in a way that we believe is inconsistent with our rights", the committee says.

It also calls for the proposed rule allowing the police to put conditions on protests based on how noisy they are to be removed from the legislation, stating it is neither "necessary nor proportionate".

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"There is a real risk that more substantial penalties would have the effect of dissuading people from exercising their right to engage in peaceful protest," the report states.

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