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This content now lives on our new site: Gypsy/Travellers


Gypsy/Travellers have been in Scotland for many centuries and still retain their own cultures and customs.  Historically Gypsy/Travellers were known to have strong oral traditions of storytelling and music, and they were crucial in taking Scots ballads from one area to another.  Their diverse history is reflected in the ‘cant’: a language used by Gypsy/Travellers, along with English, which includes Romani, Scots and Gaelic words.

In Scotland today, some Gypsy/Travellers still travel year round.  Others have a permanent base on a site or in housing, but may travel for part of the year.  Gaining access to health, education and social services, as well as employment, can be difficult when travelling.

The term 'Gypsy/Travellers' refers to distinct groups – such as Romany Gypsies, Scottish and Irish Travellers – who regard the travelling lifestyle as being part of their ethnic identity.  There are also other types of Traveller, such as Occupational Travellers, Showpeople and New Age Travellers, distinct groups who do not necessarily regard themselves as Gypsy/Travellers.

The Scottish Government recognises Gypsy/Travellers as an ethnic group in its work and encourages others to do likewise.  The Equality Act 2010 provides the legislative framework which protects people (such as Gypsy/Travellers) who are recognised as a distinct ethnic group from being discriminated against on the grounds of ethnicity.  This follows an Employment Tribunal ruling in 2008 in the case of K MacLennan vs Gypsy Traveller Education and Information Project, which concluded that Scottish Gypsy/Travellers are a group which can be defined by reference to their ethnic origins and can therefore be afforded legal protection under the Race Relations Act (1976).

Statistical data

A summary of the evidence base on Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland was published by the Scottish Government in 2013.

An analysis of equality results from the 2011 Census was published in October 2014.  It includes data relating to Gypsy/Travellers covering demographics; identity, language and religion; households; and health.

Part 2 of the analysis of equality results from the 2011 Census was published in March 2015.  It includes data relating to Gypsy/Travellers covering the labour market; education; housing; and transport. 

An analysis of data on accommodation for Gypsy/Travellers from the 2011 Census and the Scottish Housing Charter 2013-14 was published in February 2015.