The French town of Montpellier recently stirred controversy after its public transport authority approved a plan to create a Roma-only bus route to avoid the "unbearable smell of Roma people".

The plan was put forward by Dominique Granier, from the local Force Ouvrière (FO) union, who suggested putting on replacement service on the number nine route specifically for people travelling from a Roma encampment next to a cemetery into the centre of Montpellier, southern France.

The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) - an international law public organisation that tries to improve the Romani situation across Europe - said the plan was discriminatory towards the Roma community and in breach of European Union law.

Speaking to IBTimes UK, ERRC said Roma people who live in Europe face discrimination, particularly when it comes to their access to education, housing, freedom of movement, employment and health.

"Anti-Roma prejudice is passed on from generation to generation in our societies," the organisation said. "The problem persists because of the lack of willingness of the states to take steps to improve the situation of Roma, poor implementation of the international regulations and instruments concerning the fundamental rights of Roma and the manipulation of anti-Roma prejudice by politicians and others in power.

"The authorities' job is not to defeat prejudice. They should simply make sure that the Roma have equal opportunities to exercise their rights and they should monitor the progress of certain countries regarding the situation of Roma in general. The international organisations concerned with this issue should be vocal about certain gaps and violations."

Roma people France
There are some 20,000 Roma people in France, which is thought to have the harshest policy in Europe towards Roma immigrants Getty

IBTimes UK looks at some of the countries where Roma people - also called gypsies - are mostly discriminated against:


There are an estimated 20,000 Roma living in France, which is is thought to have some of the harshest anti-Roma policies in Europe.

The country often tears downs their camps and deports thousands of Roma people every year. ERRC said some 19,000 Roma people were evicted from France in 2013 alone.

In January, a French mayor sparked controversy after allegedly refusing to bury the child of a Roma couple who had died on Boxing Day. Champlan Mayor Christian Leclerc was quoted by the Le Parisien newspaper as saying priority for burial should be given to people "who pay local taxes". He later said his comments was misinterpreted.

In 2013, the founder of France's far right National Front (FN) party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was fined after he made controversial anti-Roma remarks. He was ordered to pay a fine of €5,000 (£4,100, $5,300) after he suggested stealing was in the nature of Roma people.


As per 2002 statistics, there are more than 53,000 Romani living in Macedonia. ERRC said freedom of movement is an issue for Romani in Macedonia, where they are "ethnically profiled and prevented by border officials to exercise one of their fundamental rights – the right to leave their own country – based on the presumption that they will claim asylum in the EU".

According to Amnesty International's Fight Discrimination campaign, Romani women and girls face double discrimination in the Balkan country on the basis of gender and race, and the Macedonian government has failed to protect them.

Some 2,000 members of the Roma, Sinti, Manouche, Kale, Yenish and Romanichais people from various European countries attend what the Vatican billed as the first papal audience for gypsies Getty


ERRC said access to housing is one of the biggest problems affecting Romani in Italy, estimated to be around 150,000.

"Italy is misusing EU funds for 'integration', spending them to build segregate camps for Roma on the margins of their society," the centre said.

In March 2013, The Guardian reported Rome authorities denied access to public housing for 4,000 Roma living in metal containers in remote camps.

Czech Republic

As per a 2011 census, there are 13,150 Romani people in Czech Republic, where ERRC warned that far-right groups commit racially motivated violence crimes against Roma. Similar crimes occurr also in Hungary and Slovakia.

According to Amnesty, in Czech Republic - as well as in Greece and Slovakia - Roma children are made to study in Roma-only schools or classes. Some are sent to institutions for students with "mild-mental disability".


As per 2011 statistics, there are more than 325,000 Romani people in Bulgaria. Amnesty said more than 70% of urban Roma live in segregated neighbourhoods in Romania, where they are also subjected to forced evictions.

According to the NGO Brookings Institution, the death rate among Romani children under age one, is 25 per 1,000 for Roma children, compared with 9.9 for children of Bulgarian ethnic origin.

"The mathematics of death almost before life gets started is a symbolic indicator of the Roma burden in Bulgaria," the institution said.

"Similarly, research conducted for Unicef by the University of York shows that the poverty rate among Roma children in Bulgaria is 92%, perhaps the highest poverty rate for any ethnic group in Europe. By contrast, the poverty rate among children of Bulgarian heritage is less than half as high at 43%."