LGBTI+ Travellers, Roma suffer added discrimination as ‘minority within a minority’

Of the estimated 4,000 LGBTI+ Travellers in Ireland almost 40% have experienced homelessness

One third of LGBTI+ Travellers and Roma have attempted suicide and two thirds have thought about ending their lives, a landmark study of the “minority within a minority” has found.

Funded by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) and titled Unveiling inequality experiences of LGBTI+ Travellers and Roma, the research published on Monday underlines the significant harms of multiple discriminations by both wider society and from within the LGBTI+ and Traveller communities.

Of the estimated 4,000 LGBTI+ Travellers on the island almost 40 per cent (39.1 per cent) have experienced homelessness; 41.9 per cent have been physically assaulted; 93 per cent verbally assaulted, and, just 11.1 per cent felt safe, the research indicates.

It found “fear of rejection or discrimination by their communities, and when accessing services, was prevalent for almost all of the research participants” leading to “significant feelings of isolation and disconnection”.


Positively, the report also highlights experiences of great support from family and friends within both the Traveller/Roma and LGBTI+ communities.

‘Our identities’

Oein DeBhairdúin, chairman of the national action group for LGBTI+ Traveller and Roma rights, described the report as a “sobering reminder of the much required ... steps needed towards achieving a more equal and safe society for LGBTI+ Travellers and Roma.

“As beautiful as the intersectionality of our identities can be, for most it is also a point of great fear and concern ... with many of the spaces of support proving gravely insufficient or underdeveloped,” said Mr DeBhairduin.

The action group said there was a dearth of supports targeted at this group, particularly in the areas of mental health and self-care. It calls for greater representation of Traveller and Roma LGBTI+ people in public awareness and education campaigns,

Collette Ó’ Regan, representative of LGBT Ireland on the group said: “If an LGBTI+ Traveller or Roma doesn’t come to our spaces due to fear of racism, then we must be really concerned about this, and embarrassed.

“Every LGBTI+ person needs to know they have a safe space in the LGBTI+ community including our rainbow kin in our indigenous ethnic minority, as well as other ethnic minorities”.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times