AN MSP has urged the Scottish Government to take action to tackle discrimination against gypsies and travellers.

Mary Fee, who serves Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire as part of her West Scotland remit, led a Members’ Debate in Holyrood to praise the impact of the culture in Scotland, which dates back to the 16th century and includes storytelling, songs and language.

The Labour politician, who is a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee, also used the debate to highlight the discrimination the community faces, branding it as “the last bastion of so-called acceptable racism in Scotland”.

Ms Fee said: “I was delighted to secure the support of MSPs from 
across the Parliament for a Members’ Debate on gypsy and traveller culture and discrimination.

“I have asked the Scottish Government on a regular basis what action it is taking to tackle the last bastion of so-called acceptable racism that the gypsy/traveller communities face.

“I am hopeful the Government will listen to charities involved in tackling discrimination and take credible and serious actions.

“The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey shows that discrimination against this minority group exists and it is worrying that one in three people would not accept a family member to be with a gypsy/traveller or have their children taught by a gypsy/traveller.”

Ms Fee, who has been a long-standing supporter of the community, gave anecdotal evidence of the abuse gypsies and travellers face.

She outlined an example in 2012 when the Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee invited a group of gypsy/traveller women to Holyrood for an event, only for them to be refused service in a restaurant on the Royal Mile.

The origins of gypsies and travellers in Scotland can be traced back to the Celtic age, despite the first written evidence dating only to 
the 1500s.