Chris Lee will once again be representing the Romani Cultural and Arts Company in Budapest at the follow-up meeting of the Roma LGBTI Conference which was held in Strasbourg in June 2017.
This important event is being organised and funded by The Council of Europe. Representatives of several European countries including the UK, will participate in training designed to mobilise communities and further establish networks. It is also hoped that this meeting will lead to the creation of a working programme for the Roma LGBTI ‘movement’ for the coming years.
Roma people face incredible challenges in their daily lives due to anti-Gypsyism. This widespread racism raises barriers to the inclusion, empowerment and employment of Roma individuals. Participation of Roma in policy making processes and structures both within individual countries and at a wider European level is in most cases non-existent. Stigmatisation and exclusion are worse for young women, the disabled and LGBTI members of the Roma community. Many Roma LGBTI people continue to remain invisible and conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity. The LGBTI movement itself does not always prove inclusive and responsive enough to the needs of LGBTI people belonging to ethnic minorities. The stigma they face has a detrimental impact on their life chances. The cultural clash between sexual orientation and gender identity on the one hand and Roma traditions and societal expectations on the other, place LGBTI Roma at the crossroads of discrimination.
Chris Lee is of Welsh Romany Gypsy heritage and grew up in north Wales. Chris worked as a graphic designer in advertising, theatre, education and publishing for over 30 years. She also established and ran her own successful graphic design company – Chris Lee Design. Through contact with Romany Traveller families, particularly in north Wales, Chris became aware of the serious issues which many families face on a regular basis. She is keen to contribute to a greater understanding of these issues by the wider population, to bring about change and to make the non-Gypsy community more aware of the rich culture and traditions of Gypsies in Wales.
‘The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new’. Socrates