How it all began

A little more than a year ago, Bob Lovell started a petition protesting New Zealand’s Original Gypsy Fair’s cultural appropriation of copyrighted imagery for commercial exploitation by non-Romany. In all honesty Bob admits, “It has been a great worry for me here in New Zealand, as we Romany/Gypsies are few on the Pov – ground.”

How dPeition_Bob Photoid it all begin? “When I first approached these Original Gypsy Fair people, it was clear within minutes that there were and never have been any true Romany/Gypsy travelling with this fair.” However, Bob persisted, “I suggested to them that in my eyes and in my culture, it was insulting and basically is an abuse of we Romany/Gypsy People world-wide, not just in New Zealand.”

Their disparaging remarks would have been enough to galvanize any Romany/Gypsy activist into action. But for Bob, the unlawful use of his close friend, Mr. Barrie Law’s photos was his stake in the ground moment.

And so, this year, “We started the hard work of writing up a petition, letters to New Zealand Government Ministers, a Facebook page and a blog”, said Bob. The result? Our letter has reached the desks of two New Zealand government ministers. The news item was picked up by Al Jazeera. We’ve garnered a dedicated following from around the world on social media on other blogs and twitter feeds by human rights and criminal justice advocacy. With the result that the copyrighted photo has now been replaced with a generic graphic.

“Our overall goal”, says Bob “is educating non-Romany/Gypsies that we Rom are an ethnic minority, world-wide and the citizens of many countries, protected by the UN under ethnic and cultural rights.” The campaign is gathering steam and with high response rates on social media added to the mix, support is still growing.

A last word of thanks from Bob, “Parruka tute ta Bokt” to everyone for their support.

There’s more work to be done. Stay tuned for further details.

Author: pushapencil

Frances Roberts Reilly is a Romani poet, harpist and filmmaker born into a Welsh Romany/English family and now living in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

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