Press release - DC028(2017)

Concerns raised over intolerance, discrimination and minority languages in the UK

Strasbourg, 09.03.2017 - There have been positive steps across the United Kingdom to boost the rights of national minorities, say European experts, but intolerance and hate speech are growing.

Furthermore, national minorities still face discrimination in many areas of life and additional efforts are needed to protect minority languages.

These are among the main findings of a new report on the UK’s compliance with the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM).

The report welcomes the fact that equality, integration and race strategies are being implemented across the UK and measures to tackle hate speech and hate crime are being put in place. However, global political events and concerns about immigration have contributed to anti-immigrant and anti-minority views in politics, the media and society at large in recent years.

In addition, people belonging to national minorities continue to face particular challenges related to employment and healthcare, as well as having inadequate political representation.

The report says that Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are the most affected in all of these areas. Across the UK, access to campsites continues to be problematic, particularly in England and Northern Ireland. These groups are also regularly subject to “hostility, hate speech, physical attacks and hideous forms of prejudice and discrimination”.

Concerning Northern Ireland, the report says that continuing sectarianism and a static interpretation of “good relations” between the two main communities have contributed to a lack of progress in protecting the rights of the growing number of national minorities in the province, including language rights.

Political recognition of the Cornish minority in 2014 was an important step in acknowledging the unique identity and language of the Cornish people, says the report. This should now be followed up with adequate policy and financial measures.

Today’s report from the Advisory Committee of the FCNM, which has been published together with the response from the UK authorities, has been passehas been passed on to the Council of Europe’s main decision-making body, the Committee of Ministers. The Committee of Ministers is expected to adopt a resolution addressed to the UK authorities in the coming weeks.


    - This is the fourth report on the UK’s compliance with the FCNM; previous reports were published in 2002, 2007 and 2011 respectively

    - The FCNM is a legally-binding international treaty setting out a number of principles to help protect national minorities; it was signed by the UK in 1995 and entered into force there in 1998

    - Today’s report is based on information provided by the UK authorities in March 2015 as well as other documentary sources and discussions with national authorities, NGOs and academics

Contact: Andrew Cutting, Spokesperson/Media Officer, tel. +32 485 217 202

Council of Europe Directorate of Communications
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11