"Judges have been told not to use the word ‘gipsy’ for fear of causing offence. But the ban has been condemned as ‘confusing’ – by a leading gipsy group.
The edict is among a string of terms banned in a new set of guidelines for judges to make sure they comply with equality rules. They are told the word ‘gipsy’ is disparaging and should be replaced by ‘member of a travelling community’.
Last night, however, Joseph Jones, secretary of the Gipsy Council, said: ‘People in the UK are proud to be called gipsies. They don’t mind being called gipsies.
‘It’s not a name that came from the Romany community and some people don’t like it for that reason. But Romany Gipsy is not a term that’s seen as a negative thing. A lot of British people from the Romany Gipsy community are proud to be gipsies – like anyone from any ethnic community would be proud to be.’
Mr Jones said describing gipsies as ‘members of the travelling community’ was ‘too simplistic’.The problem with that is it confuses the issue by mixing people who are in an ethnic group with people who are not,’ he said.
The edict comes in a summary of the Equal Treatment Bench Book, published by the judges’ training body, the Judicial Studies Board.
The manual also warns about using the word ‘British’. It states: ‘Use of the term as a synonym for White, English or Christian is incorrect and unacceptable.’
Other words banned are ‘invalid’, ‘mental handicap’ and ‘wheelchair-bound’. Instead judges should use ‘disabled person’, ‘learning difficulties’ and ‘a wheelchair-user’.