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Fundación Secretariado Gitano tackles the impact on people of Anti-Roma speech [editar]

New study on Anti-Roma hate speech that appeared by the COVID-19 pandemic

FSG Igualdad y Lucha contra la discriminación

Fundación Secretariado Gitano tackles the impact on people of Anti-Roma speech
  • This study is published after several months of work analysing all messages and interviewing victims of hate speech or direct witnesses of hate message and false rumours appeared in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The analysis of these speeches leads to conclusions about how they are generated, how they are disseminated and what human impact they have on the people who suffer them.
  • This study has been funded with a subsidy from the Office of Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Co-operation.

Fundación Secretariado Gitano just published the study THE COVID-19 CRISIS AND ANTI-ROMA HATE SPEECH. AN ANALYSIS THROUGH CASE STUDIES OF ITS ORIGINS, DISSEMINATION AND IMPACT UPON PEOPLE, on the impact of hate speeches appeared in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, on Roma people.

The study, produced with the support of the Office of Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Co-operation, consists in a qualitative analysis of six cases of Anti-Roma hate speech arising from the pandemic, most of them reported by the FSG to Special Prosecutor´s Office responsible for dealing with hate crimes. The organisation considered it appropriate to analyse these episodes, given that the pandemic, arising so many expressions of antigypsyism, unfortunately provides an ideal laboratory for drawing conclusions about how these speeches are generated, how they are disseminated, and what impact they have on Roma people.

This analysis, which includes in-depth interviews Roma people in localities where these speeches were generated, concludes that many of these "extreme" speeches were born out of misinformation or irresponsible statements by public authorities. These statements did not cross the line of criminality but were aimed at the Roma community for their alleged role in the spread of the virus or for their alleged non-compliance with lockdown. They were all stigmatising and biased messages, which created a perfect breeding ground for Anti-Roma hate speech.

The study delves into the human impact of hate speech in an innovative way. In the words of Cristina de la Serna, Director of the Department of Equality and Combating Discrimination at the Fundación Secretariado Gitano, "beyond the fact that these speeches may be illegal, anti-democratic or politically incorrect, the important thing is that they generate direct and very serious harm to the people targeted by them; they have a concrete and tangible impact on human rights, which we must take into account when taking measures to tackle them". Through the interviews, it was possible to verify the extent of this impact: fear, public singling out, scapegoating, stress, damage to dignity, childhood trauma, dehumanisation, discrimination in access to goods and services, hypervigilance of Roma women, isolation....

Hate speech policies sometimes remain at the theoretical, legal or criminal level (how to define it, whether it is a crime or not, the conflict with freedom of expression, sanctions, etc.). These testimonies provide, in short, a deeper and more human vision of the impact of hate speech, of the capacity of words to hurt, of their personal and collective effects, and of their link with acts of discrimination that affect the lives of Roma people.